Skip to main content

The Ending: Inception


After watching Inception for a second time this weekend I can say with certainty that I know which world Cobb is in.

It should go without saying that this discussion will invoke spoilers so people who have not seen Inception (and honestly how many people could that be?) tread carefully.

Armed with a secondary knowledge of all the tricks to distinguish between Cobb's (Leonardo DiCaprio) dreams and the waking life my girlfriend and I spent our Saturday deciphering every little moment in Christopher Nolan's latest mind-bender. For every dream Cobb is in his wedding band is placed securely on his ring finger, when he is not it disappears. A key point to remember during the last scene of the film. As Cobb sets down his luggage to spin his totem one last time his band does not appear on his hand. More importantly, the children are wearing different clothes than the same outfits during all the previous scenes.

Whether Ariadne (Ellen Page) is a plant by Miles (Michael Caine) to convince Cobb to "come back to reality" or just a concerned bystander is for you to decide. Personally, the Saito-Fischer substory seems too real for it to be a facade to lull Cobb back to the real world.

Now, let's address those questions surrounding how Cobb got back from his dream to limbo to real life. The first is easiest to explain, after Mal (Marion Cotillard) dies Cobb presumably dives off the crumbling building in the same fashion as Fischer (Cillian Murphy) and Ariadne where he is transportated to Limbo. Not long afterward Cobb washes ashore and is taken to Saito (Ken Watanabe). Gun in hand Saito and Cobb help each other recognize why they are there and what Cobb has to do to get back. The last shot is of Saito picking up Cobb's gun before we jump back to the airline. Christopher Nolan could have been more clear in lengthening the scenes before the cut-aways, but the point of Inception was to always leave a little doubt in your mind.

The main criticisms levied at Inception is that it is flashy, yet below the surface, entirely devoid of substance. Now, that I just will not believe. There are Thoreau-ian themes throughout the film, "To be awake is to be alive." Miles (Michael Caine) mentions as much to Cobb when he begs him to, "Come back to reality." Cobb has been away from his children for, what it presumed to be, a few years running heists that won't bring him any closer back to his old life. Only in awakening can Cobb truly live his life in a "perpetual morning," which is to say that he will never experience the darkness again.

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Anomalisa

Weird is rarely used as a good quality in film criticism, but few words so completely describe Charlie Kaufman’s work as weird does. All of his films are a window into his very particular worldview, and that p.o.v. is certainly unlike anything seen in pop culture. For that reason, Anomalisa became an entry on many most anticipated lists for 2015. That Kaufman chose stop-motion to tell this story made the picture an event. So it came as a disappointment when the film was one of the year’s more mundane efforts.

Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind have an energy and heart at the center that is not present here. Previous collaborators like Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry were able to temper the overwhelming negativity Charlie Kaufman occasionally falls prey to, but, this time, the writer doesn’t have a director to rein things in. In all of his efforts to create an experience that is both familiar and alienating, Kaufman may have accidentally created something host…

Review: The Salvation

Westerns have never recovered from the oversaturation that killed off viewer interest decades ago, but every now and then a gem pops up. Recent successes like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma and the Coen brothers adaptation of True Grit all did well because they tweaked the genre slightly, but director Kristian Levring goes with an old school approach. A faithful recreation of those revenge Westerns made so popular in the 1970s, The Salvation envelopes many elements of previous Clint Eastwood classics and wraps it into a tidy package.

The Salvation starts in on the central dilemma, joining Jon (Hannibal‘s Mad Mikkelsen) at the train station where he awaits the arrival of his wife and son. Jon and his brother, Peter (Mikael Persbrandt), have lived in the United States long enough to build a hospitable life for their family back in Denmark. This homecoming should be a sweet moment to establish the family important to Jon, but fate plays out…

Review: Selma

It may surprise many that Martin Luther King Jr. never received the celluloid treatment prior to Selma. Sure he had been mentioned in other historical pieces, but short of documentary footage, King was never given center stage. Quite shocking given the man's legacy and the lingering effect of his efforts still felt today. Several years of production and a director change later, Selma arrives as the film worthy of the man.