Hollywood blockbuster 'Tenet' leaves Chinese audiences scratching heads

By Ji Yuqiao Source: Global Times Published: 2020/9/6 18:13:42

Two lead actors of Tenet: John David Washington (left) and Robert Pattinson Photo: VCG

Director Christopher Nolan's Hollywood blockbuster Tenet crossed two 100 million marks on Saturday - 100 million yuan($20 million) at the Chinese mainland box office and $100 million internationally.

Nolan's new time-reversal thriller has sparked hot discussion among Chinese audiences, with numerous netizens posting their reviews and impressions after watching the film in cinemas.

Even though they could only catch late-night screenings after work, two Beijing residents decided to support the film on Friday, its first day of release. 

Wang Ying, who bought tickets for an 11:30 pm showing, told the Global Times that she needed to catch a plane the next morning, but "I had been looking forward to this film for a long time and if I did not watch it the first day, I would not sleep well."

Some netizens who said they were going to see the film pointed to Nolan's past works as a guarantee of quality. 

"I believe in Nolan and he has never let me down. So I bought a ticket for day one," one netizen wrote on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo on Thursday.

A billboard for Christopher Nolan's film Tenet on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood on August 19. Photo: AFP

The hashtag for the film had been viewed more than 700 million times as of Sunday afternoon, while the film itself has a 7.9/10 on Chinese media review platform Douban from 149,000 reviews, proving its popularity.

However, much like Nolan's Inception, the new sci fi thriller has left some members of the audience wondering what they had just seen. 

"I think Nolan overestimated my IQ. Although he has said audiences should feel the film rather than understand it, I felt uncomfortable sitting in the cinema in a witless state," one netizen commented in a review on Douban.

Shi Wenxue, a cultural critic and teacher at the Beijing Film Academy, commented that Tenet is more complicated than the director's former works.

"The reason is that there is not much foreshadowing during the first half of the film and the third act reveals too many secrets, causing confusion for the audience," he told the Global Times on Sunday.

Compared with Inception as well as Interstellar, Shi said he thinks Tenet provides a better answer to present reality, which is to "protect the present even from the future."

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