Now on Video On Demand, Christopher Nolan’s reasonably anticipated Tenet was an experiment in a few different ways in visual and narrative structure, releasing a movie theatrically during a pandemic, in testing an audience’s tolerance for a challenging brain bender during a challenging time.
Results were mixed, as critics and audiences found much to admire and about as much to be confused about. Warner Bros. reportedly lost about $100 million due to significantly diminished box office returns.
Notably, the release on big screens occurred at the filmmaker’s insistence. Before WB decided all its 2021 releases would debut in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously, a decision Nolan harshly criticized.
Most of us will watch Tenet for the first time at home on our TVs, which probably isn’t ideal. Maybe our experience will be diminished somewhat. Perhaps it’ll be too heady and confounding no matter how big the screen and sound system.
But mostly, maybe we should be thankful that a studio and director have the credibility and nerve to spend $400 million to make something so audaciously original.
This is where I’d typically contextualize the story by relaying its setting, but this is Nolan effing with us, so TIME HAS NO MEANING. Or maybe TIME HAS SO MUCH MEANING, and it transcends one single linear temporal point.
Tenet: Where To Stream? Is It Worth Watching?
From here, I’m forced to employ gross reductionism because, in this film, a whole lot of stuff occurs, and I hung with it for about 45 of its 150 minutes. The plot winds its way through a maze until it found its tail and ate it.
We can lean in and take notes on the reams of exposition and track this part and see where they overlap and tangle. Or we can decontextualize the piece of the movie’s dialogue that says, “Don’t try to understand it.
Feel it,” and sit back, let it all happen to us and just trust that Nolan made this ouroborosian time-travel shit airtight. I mostly did the latter.
Well, Branagh and his silly Russian accent turn the scenery into a Vegas buffet. So my vote goes to Washington, who proved to be a find in BlacKKKlansman; after Tenet, I’d like to see him once again play less of a non-character.
Tenet is like a four-dimensional maze, and we worry it only fully makes sense to its M.C. Escheresque architect.