The first thing I can really say about “Ink” is wow. And then attempt to describe it and begin this review with this very bold statement:

This is the movie Inception wished it had been.

And this film probably had about 1 percent of the budget Christopher Nolan had.

This movie doesn’t rely on million-dollar special effects and stunts to make it awesome. There are some special effects, but they are so subtly done that the details of them lend itself to the art of the story. In the end, though, it’s the heartfelt story here that makes for a wonderful film.

So what’s Ink about?

It’s about what happens when we go to sleep. Sort of. There are two tribes of people in the world where we dream. Those who give us good dreams and those who give us nightmares. And somewhere between the two is Ink, a lonely figure in a shaggy hooded robe who takes it upon himself to steal a little girl while she’s sleeping.

But the story is more than that. It is also about the relationship between a girl and her father and about a father’s redemption in the eyes of his child.

The film takes place in both the real world and the subconscious realm as the story begins to play itself out. In our world, the stolen girl’s father deals with having been shut out of his daughter’s life after the death of his wife because he has been deemed to be an unfit parent. When he is told by the girl’s grandfather that she is in a coma, he shouts, “I don’t have a daughter! You saw to that.” In a series of flashbacks, we see that when the girl was younger, he was very much an absent father, choosing work and his career over family.

Meanwhile, in the realm of the subsconscious, a ragtag group of good dream-givers are doing everything within their power to bring the girl back. And one of them knows that the key to doing this is through the girl’s father. But will they be able to get through to him in time?

This all leads up to a solid ending that is both surprising and utterly satisfying.

And I’ll admit it. I cried. By the time you’re halfway into the film, you truly care about every character who makes an appearance on the screen and this is due to great writing and great acting.

Visually, this film feels like something Dave McKean might have had a hand in. I was very much reminded of McKean’s work on Mirror Mask. There was a bizarre feel to it, especially in the realm of the subsconscious, with great use of light and shadow and image blur.

To sum up, this movie reminds me of why I generally prefer independent films over what Hollywood is often offering us. Ink is pure art, of the highest caliber.

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