Tenet ★★★★★

It’s within the twilight world of the idols, the hazy, purple cusp of day and night, light and dark, good and evil, where new foundations are born of old. Nolan’s obsessions with time and fate (or reality, as Neil calls them) converge in Tenet upon the very tenets or axioms that are unfurling our modern world — two philosophies moving forward and backward at the same time, one of rationality that decays into the ultimate expression of Mephistophelean nihilism, the other an attempt to grapple with being itself in a heroic and meaningful manner. One stakes the claim of progress but exterminates with clinical precision the god-given soul of man, while the other hinges itself upon the paradisal fortitude of familial camaraderie at the risk of blindness. In a filmography that situates itself upon one noble lie after another — from Memento, to The Prestige, to The Dark Knight, to Inception, all films in which the audience must exchange a vision of the truth for a vision of consolation — we ask ourselves which philosophy presented here might be true and which might be false? We’re told that to know the true nature of the temporal cold war in Tenet, where fire inverts into ice and the wind is always upon your back, is to lose. That’s because to live is to lose and, even worse, to know nature, specifically man’s nature, in some attempt to rise above our animal instincts is to endanger that which matters most — our irrational love. Sator’s satanic vision of life is real, but it doesn’t have to be true. You don’t appreciate the bombs that don’t go off, only the ones that do. That’s the noble lie of Tenet. Only the obscurity of time, and fate, and reality, and how those natural laws may reveal themselves through moments of both pain and beauty. That which appears rational on the surface breaks down into chaotic absurdity at the quantum level. How we react to the absurdity, to the fragility of time and the measured rigidity of fate — what happens to us and what doesn’t happen to us — is what dictates our place within the twilight. There are no friends at dusk.

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