In theaters.

Is this how writer-director Christopher Nolan dreams? My own dreams are chaotic, flotsam-and-jetsam ordeals, so the systematic, clockwork dreams of Nolan’s Inception leave me puzzled, not so much because of their complexity but because of their weirdly antiseptic, rational nature. Like an android’s explanation of love, the movie is coolly fascinating, compelling in its own odd way, yet fundamentally flawed: It isn’t wrong, per se, but neither is it whole. I spent a couple days turning Nolan’s movie over in my mind, trying to figure out why it left me intrigued but utterly unmoved, and I finally concluded that it’s that seemingly alien quality that keeps Inception at a remove. Straightforward narratives have no place in dreams. By hewing to one, Inception makes itself a mere curiosity.