Magazine October 5, 2020, Issue

Tenet Has to Be Studied and Viewed Multiple Times to Be Understood

John David Washington in Tenet (Warner Bros.)

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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