Title: Tenet
Director: Christopher Nolan 
Cast: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh, Michael Caine, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Dimple Kapadia, Clémence Poésie, Himesh Patel, Denzil Smith, Martin Donovan, Sean Avery, Jack Cutmore-Scott, Rich Ceraulo Ko, Fiona Dourif, Yuri Kolokolnikov.

Christopher Nolan in his latest, greatly awaited — and much delayed in its release because of the Covid-19 pandemic — ‘Tenet,’ flaunts his passion for the epistemic virtue in science. 

The story revolves around a secret agent (John David Washington), who embarks on a time-bending enterprise to prevent World War Three. The word “Tenet” is the main weapon that protects him during this international espionage, with his handler (Robert Pattinson), to save the world and with it the estranged wife (Elizabeth Debicki) of a Russian oligarch who communes with the future (Kenneth Branagh).

The film undoubtably evokes ‘Inception,’ in terms of time travel, but it is not a sequel as many had expected it to be. This spy film — whose title is intentionally a palindrome — coalesces the realism of old war movies with a futuristic approach to science-fiction. This was successfully achieved by special effects supervisor Scott R. Fisher and the raw interpretation of the entire cast. John David Washington portrays the Protagonist in an organic and unpretentious way, and the same freshness is provided by Robert Pattinson, who leaves behind his days of the Twilight Saga to continue attesting how he has blossomed into a tremendously versatile actor. Kenneth Branagh’s talent is indisputable, and the statuary  Elizabeth Debicki proves to have dramatic flair. 

The script, written by Christopher Nolan with the consultancy of theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, blends challenging scientific theories with the existential crisis of this present day. Themes about how humanity has exploited the planet, and the challenges that await future generations, intertwine with the action elements typical of a blockbuster. We have all wondered what are lives would have been like if we could have turned back time. On the basis of this, Nolan shows us how time, in the world of fiction, is not an unalterable dynamic. In ‘Tenet’ it can be managed, bent, twisted, juxtaposed and even reversed.

It is interesting to note that the notion of time inversion portrayed in the film is not entirely unthinkable in the opinion of today’s physicists. “Every law of physics is symmetrical — it can go forward or backward in time and always remain the same — except entropy,” Nolan explains. “In theory, if the entropy flow of an object could be reversed, the time flow of that object itself could be reversed; therefore, the story of ‘Tenet’ is based on credible physics.” This idea therefore is held to be true, no wonder the filmmaker chose ‘Tenet’ as the title, since the word means “one of the principles on which a belief or theory is based.”

However, it is understandable if non-scientific cinemagoers will be more engrossed in the IMAX visual effects, and will feel a degree in Quantum mechanics may help to fully grasp the grandiosity of Nolan’s vision.

Technical: A+
Acting: A
Story: B
Overall: A-

Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

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By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi, is a film critic, culture and foreign affairs reporter, screenwriter, film-maker and visual artist. She studied in a British school in Milan, graduated in Political Sciences, got her Masters in screenwriting and film production and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York and Los Angeles. Chiara’s “Material Puns” use wordplay to weld the title of the painting with the materials placed on canvas, through an ironic reinterpretation of Pop-Art, Dadaism and Ready Made. She exhibited her artwork in Milan, Rome, Venice, London, Oxford, Paris and Manhattan. Chiara works as a reporter for online, print, radio and television and also as a film festival PR/publicist. As a bi-lingual journalist (English and Italian), who is also fluent in French and Spanish, she is a member of the Foreign Press Association in New York, the Women Film Critics Circle in New York, the Italian Association of Journalists in Milan and the Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean. Chiara is also a Professor of Phenomenology of Contemporary Arts at IED University in Milan.

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