I’m going to assume by now you have seen Inception. If not, after paragraph three, there WILL BE SPOILERS.
The short and sweet is that Inception is the best movie I’ve seen this year. It is probably one of the best films I’ve ever seen. It’s not a mindless action film, although there is plenty of action and gunfire. It’s not a love film, although there is a fiery passion and love built into the story.
It’s also not a film that you can passively watch. Inception challenges you to ponder every detail, because at the end of the film is when the real thinking begins. I wholeheartedly recommend Inception and think Christopher Nolan has built a masterpiece.
Now there will be spoilers, so you are forewarned. With a running time of just under 2.5 hours, I was afraid the film might seem a little long. Sometimes there is plenty of story to be told and a long running time is justified. Inception is just that film. There needs to be some explanation of what “extraction” is and why it was formulated. We also need to understand Leonardo DiCaprio‘s character and what it is that drives him deeper and deeper into the recesses of dreams.
At the end of the movie we are left with Cobb’s totem still spinning, but wobbling a bit…leaving it up in the air whether it’s the real world. What exactly does that mean? What did Nolan want it to mean? Did Cobb never leave that fourth-level dreamspace?
We don’t know exactly how long it has been since Cobb’s wife Mal (Marion Cotillard) died, but we have to assume that a chunk of time – months or maybe even years has passed since he has seen his kids. Yet when he gets “home” at the end, James and Phillipa are wearing the same clothes as when he first fled and they don’t appear to have aged at all. Are they just his projections? If so, whose dream is he in? Where is his body?
I screened the film twice and in the second viewing, I noticed something when Cobb goes to meet the Chemist Yusuf (Dileep Rao). When Cobb tries Yusuf’s chemical concoction that first time in the dark basement, he wakes up and Yusuf says “Sharp, no?”
Cobb heads to the bathroom and splashes water on his face. As he glances in the mirror he notices the same wind-blown curtains from the hotel room he shared with Mal on their honeymoon. He grabs his totem and tries to spin it, but it falls off the counter and he’s interrupted as he picks it up.
Was he still dreaming at that point? In his dream did he “wake up” and head to the bathroom, never getting the chance to see that his totem won’t stop spinning? He doesn’t spin the thing again until the end of the movie, and he doesn’t see what happens there either. Was the rest of the film from that point simply all in his mind?
Seeing the curtains from the hotel room could also signify that Cobb’s projections of his wife and kids are simply getting so powerful that they’re starting to burst into his actual living world and not just when he’s dreaming.
When Cobb and Ariadne (Ellen Page) head down to the fourth level or the empty dreamspace level to find Saito (Ken Watanabe), there’s a scene between Cobb and Mal where she’s chiding him about governments chasing after him and secret agents on his tail. She asks him if he even knows reality anymore. Is that a clue that what we’re seeing is NOT Cobb and Ariadne inside four levels of dreamers and instead just in Cobb’s mind back in Yusuf’s basement?
The other thing that really got my attention is the fact that Cobb’s totem is actually his wife’s old totem. The way the totems are described in the film is that each one is very particular and special to one individual.
When Cobb inherits Mal’s totem, does it mean that it won’t work like it’s supposed to for him? After all, it was her thing that the totem will stop spinning when the world is real, not Cobb’s. Perhaps the “reality” that the audience is being presented is simply all an Inception within the mind of Cobb, led by a different Dream-Team (maybe by Ariadne?).
This could mean that the entire film was simply a dream and we the audience are just watching what is going on in various levels of Cobb’s mind.
Of course maybe all of this is off. Maybe the whole story of Inception and Cobb is simply what happens after DiCaprio’s character in Shutter Island has his lobotomy. Is “Cobb” just what Teddy Daniels creates in his mind after they slice off part of his brain?
Probably not – but it’s kind of a fun conspiracy theory. Having continuity between two directors and two separate stories would make one hell of a mind-trip for the audience.
Anyway…Inception is an incredible film and certainly one that warrants conversation. I thought Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Arthur) was great, although emotionless. The real emotion came from Cobb and Mal’s relationship. Page, Watanabe and Tom Hardy (Eames) were all rock-solid too.
What did you get out of the film? Did you see something that I didn’t? Were you disappointed?
Both times I saw the movie, the audience let out an audible “oh!” as the movie ended with the top still spinning. I even heard several people trying to blow at the screen to knock the totem over. Did the ending work for you?
Let me know what you thought in the comments below.