Confession time. When I went to the Austin screening of Inception, exactly one week ago, I took it in, enjoyed it immensely, and was pretty much finished thinking about it by the time my head hit the pillow a couple of hours later. I'd heard it was a great movie, and while I completely agreed, I thought some of its goodness may have been amplified by most of this Summer's unusual amount of badness.
It's strange to think that a fantastic movie like Inception might seem like a bigger deal when placed against a desert of idiotic and uninvolving product. Shouldn't great just mean great? I felt odd, because I really liked the film, but it seems like there are people going absolutely gaga bananas over-the-moon for it. I'd count it as my favorite film this year, but there's something about it that's keeping me a little restrained.
I never even considered that the whole movie might be a dream -- I left believing that Cobb chose to stay in a dream at the end. I've seen a lot of different interpretations on what the movie might be (including Devin Faraci's interesting take that the characters represent different elements of filmmaking), but, in a way, I just don't care.
Why is that? Probably because Inception doesn't resonate with me on any kind of personal level. As a work of bullet-to-the-brain entertainment, sure, but there's not one thing about the film that sticks to my ribs, save for its remarkable craft. I enjoyed its story, even the beginning, which I've since heard unwarranted complaints about as being too cold or exposition-heavy, and I liked the characters. It was a unique, unpredictable ride, and, at the end of the day, an exceptionally well-made action movie and most certainly an instant classic in that genre.
So, here I am in the odd position of loving a movie, and also not seeing what the big deal is all about. I'm conflicted. Let's go back to that big question, though -- Is Cobb dreaming the entire film? If so, does that somehow render all the events in the film irrelevant?
Personally, I'll need to see it again before I can answer that first question, but I can address the second one -- I don't think it ruins the movie. It's still Cobb's story, specifically about seeking closure with Mal. No matter what part of the movie is a dream, this is the real plot, beyond the gunfights and zero-g fight scenes. Because of that, if the movie is a dream, Cobb's stakes remain the same -- he won't be able to move on without putting Mal to rest, once and for all. If the idea of the entire thing being a dream in Cobb's head pisses you off, then you might be missing the point of the whole film.
Make sure to check out Peter S. Hall's in-depth dissection of the film over on Cinematical for more.
What did you think? Sound off in the comments section below.