Critics have been all over the place since the announcement of Tenet. They branded it as the movie that is set to save the movie industry, whatever that means. While theater enthusiasts have been left with an empty feeling since the closing of the theaters. Tenet has been put forward as the savior, resulting in immensely high expectations of it being the complete blockbuster. No single film is able to meet such high expectations. Sadly, Tenet hasn’t as well, which is a shame. Tenet is an artistic, complex, and visually stunning film which has drawn me closer to the screen on multiple occasions. It does, however, not deliver on all criteria in order to be called a complete blockbuster.
If you expect everything, nothing will be able to please you. After a period of boredom and emptiness because of this pandemic, the need for movies was extremely high. However, there were little to no films being published. Most have been delayed until further notice. Tenet was quickly seen as the only real blockbuster coming to the big screens and therefore branded as savior. With the thirst for new blockbusters that high and the expectations set in stone, Tenet stood no chance.
The criticism that Tenet is not a complete blockbuster film is understandable. But it’s also not a bad thing, far from it. It does look like some corners have been cut in the writing of the characters, their internal development, and relationships. However, if you then look at the visuals, the cinematography, and the screenwriting, you are looking at a masterpiece. Since when does a film have to have it all, I believe that to excel in one thing, you have to put something else on the back burner. Nolan does what he does best, he created a stunning masterpiece, a feast for the brain. He created something like nothing else.
The Oxford English dictionary on the meaning of art: “The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” If art is based on an expression of skill and emotion, I would say it is meant to be flawed. The pure skill of Nolan is clearly shown in the 150 stunning minutes composed under the name of Tenet. You can clearly see it’s a “Nolan”, just like you would be able to pick a Pollock out of thousands.
On platforms like Netflix, there are thousands of movies and shows to give you a short-term pleasure impulse. These movies are most of the time, dare I say it, simple. Most times I find it hard to label these movies as art. That simplicity, combined with the range of films, and the ease we experience in going to the next one, is threatening to the way that we watch films. We are getting used to it, we’ll be on our phones for the most part of the movie, and still, be able to understand the plot due to the simplicity. Did you do anything else during the first months of quarantine? I didn’t… Then, came Tenet, a highly complex piece of art so different from the stuff we had been watching. I think it’s important to see a movie like Tenet as a work of art, where the director and the ones connected put their heart and soul in. Watch it as you would look at paintings, you can see and respect the specific skill and emotion used by that specific artist. And of course, you can have a preference for Rembrandt, but you’re still able to see the beauty in the works of others. I want to note that there is a difference between a “simple” Netflix thirst quencher and a work of art produced out of skill and emotion.
To conclude I want to say that please, be aware of the movie you are going to see, look for the qualities and the skill and you will find joy. With Tenet as an example, let the cinematography and the stunning visuals take you through the story. See it as an artwork made by a master of screenplay and time. Accept the complexity, every detail is placed with the utmost care. Lastly, I would like to add that there is nothing wrong with watching a quick Netflix (they also have great movies), I just ask to see that there is a difference. And please, enjoy! Enjoy the beautiful world of film.