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.

Something to Consider

If you enjoyed this article, we have a proposition for you: Join NRPLUS. Members get all of our content (including the magazine), no paywalls or content meters, an advertising-minimal experience, and unique access to our writers and editors (conference calls, social-media groups, etc.). And importantly, NRPLUS members help keep NR going. Consider it?

If you enjoyed this article, and were stimulated by its contents, we have a proposition for you: Join NRPLUS.


In This Issue



Education Section

Books, Arts & Manners


The Week

The Week

When Speaker Nancy Pelosi was photographed in a San Francisco hair salon, in violation of local lockdown rules, her defense was . . . interesting.


The Latest