I just finished watching Inception for the second time. Both times, I’ve found myself watching, and watching, and waiting, until I eventually decide that the movie, while based on a fascinating concept (although not necessarily original), simply does not live up to the hype. The story feels forced, the flow rushed, and the plot trite.
Then, two things happen.
Warning: spoilers abound below. Take care lest ye be SPOILED.
Seriously, I don’t want to ruin the movie or anything.
Ok. First, when Cobb and Ariadne find Mal while they search for Fisher after he has been shot. Mal (is that really how that’s spelled? It is according to IMDB) points out to Cobb how his reality isn’t quite up to muster: exiled from home for somewhat ambiguous reasons, chased by some apparently omnipotent corporation, everyone out to get him, but with a few stout allies providing just enough support.
Of course, Mal also points these details out to us, the audience. Which suddenly plugs the leaks in the plot: it’s not shoddy writing, it’s a representation of how Cobb’s “reality” might actually be yet another dream. Brilliant! Actually, I think it’s cheating, but it is thought provoking.
Second, the final scene: Cobb’s father leads him into his home, with his children waiting on him just as they had before he fled the country. Cobb spins his totem, and goes to meet his children. The camera pans back to the spinning totem, which starts to wobble, slowing down, almost certainly to topple and reveal that we are, in fact, watching reality-
And the screen goes black. Ending credits.
Those two scenes taken in concert intrigue and infuriate me. Intrigue, because they lend context to what would otherwise just be shoddy movie-making. Infuriate, because I spend nearly two hours working up my disdain for the movie, just to be left with the thought that maybe there’s more to the movie than I initially believed. (I was so tempted to try to coin the phrase “mind food” here.)
Has anyone ever watched Inception twice in a row, with no break in between viewings? Ok, maybe with just a small break…
I can’t help but believe that those two scenes trick me into thinking that Inception is actually a mind-bending tour de force, while it is, instead, exactly what the first 90 or so minutes show: mediocre-ish. Clever, that.
Note: Nothing would make me happier than a legion of Inceptionites crashing the gates of my little blog with torches and pitch forks. But it actually wasn’t until I finished writing the post that I realized I might piss off what I imagine to be a horde of Inceptionophiles, thereby getting some views. More mind food.