Some movies have a little subtext. Christopher Nolan's challenging and quite bracing new film, "Inception," is all subtext. Gloriously so.
Structured as a state-of-the-art noir,"Inception" has something to do with a small band of intellectual adventurers who invade - and often share - the dreams of clients with lofty problems that need to be solved.
They are provocateurs who suggest ideas to their clients, manipulating their thought and dream patterns, and particularly astute viewers might sense that Nolan is using dream manipulation here as an allegory for filmmaking itself and that his chief protagonist is an auteur of sorts.
Arcane wordplay is used to explain everything and simply listening to it can lull one into a seductive dreamworld that is not unlike a movie.
And that is not at all unpleasurable.
A commanding Leonardo DiCaprio, Nolan's on-screen surrogate, is physically even a dead-ringer for Nolan here as he leads a world-class supporting cast through an intimidating maze of rushing action and melancholy moods. The latter is driven by DiCaprio's relentless pursuit of his late wife (the magnetic Marion Cotillard) in a dreamworld that he would like to share with her but, for apparent reasons, can't.
Their "relationship" is the core of "Inception" and it's clear that Nolan shrewdly used Alfred Hitchcock's woozy, iconic "Veritgo" (1958) - the last word in a man hopelessly stalking a woman - as his template.
This most audacious film tackles remarkably serious matters - loss and the fear and sense of exclusion that come with it - and, in the end, despite its willfully confusing vision, "Inception" is astonishingly simple.
It is that rare modern movie that has a moral conscience.