Tenet, the first movie I’ve seen in a theater since the pandemic reached our shores, has been sold as a movie you can see only in theaters: It needs the biggest screens (IMAX if you can get it), the biggest speakers, the full-immersion cinematic bath. But peculiarly, it’s also a movie that can’t be understood in theaters, even with the most intense concentration. Indeed, it’s almost aggressively contemptuous of the audience’s desire to comprehend the action, delivering impossible-to-follow set pieces at a relentless pace and burying expository dialogue under flagrant blasts of sound.
For its famous director, Christopher Nolan, the burying …
This article appears as “Forward Backward” in the October 5, 2020, print edition of National Review.
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