Inception. Every time I utter that word, I have to catch my breath. From the insanely beautiful visuals and fantastic acting to the exceptional story, Inception is an emotion-packed journey that can only be enjoyed if the viewer participates.
Since its release, the movie has received rave reviews earning a rating of 86% on www.rottentomatoes.com and approximately $62.8 million for the opening weekend box office. Despite these positive reviews and undoubted financial success, many movie-goers remain unconvinced that this film is the masterpiece as many have come to recognize it.
This author, on the other hand, cannot wait to watch it for a second time. When it comes to psychological thrillers, I find they view as a totally different film when watched again, i.e. Shutter Island. I am anxious to find answers to questions I formulated now that I have marinated with and absorbed the movie in its entirety. I have tried to keep from reading other reviews, theories and summaries of Inception to stay as pure as possible to my own feeling of the movie. Alas, it has been extremely tough to do and my viewpoint has been tainted by the endless prattle on every part of the movie, including the viewer-interpreted ending.
I believe a movie like Inception encourages furious debate that can only be silenced by an additional viewing, in most cases. Before we head to the local theater and contribute to the growing revenue of Nolan’s latest flick, let us refresh ourselves on the characters and storyline. This way, we can remain focused on answering the gray areas of the film.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, also known as, “The Extractor.” When it comes to a professional walking around your dream state-of-mind, Cobb is the man to do it and successfully extract what information he needs. Cobb is the emotional pull in the movie. Through the course of the film, his tumultuous relationship with wife, Mal, played by Marion Cotillard, is brought to light and we find she is the source of his inability to create dreams.
Enter Ellen Page. Page plays Ariadne, “The Architect” needed for the final heist where an idea needs to be planted rather than extracted. The remaining members, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, “Arthur,” Tom Hardy, “Eames” and Dileep Rao, “Yusuf” round out the team of extractors aiding Cobb in this inception. Ariadne creates the dreamworld; Arthur researches all there is to know about the target, or the person being incepted; Eames is also known as “The Forger” morphing into different human identifies, ensuring success of the inception; and Yusuf provides the drugs needed to enter and share dreams.
The plot of the movie is revealed with Saito, played by Ken Watanabe, requesting Cobb to plant an idea in the mind of Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy). The “idea” will need to make Fischer dissolve the company of his father to prevent any jeopardizing of Saito’s company. The act of inception has been done only once, when Dom planted an idea in Mal’s mind. The idea was so strong that when Mal came out of her dream, she mistook reality for a dream. This strong belief led to her suicide in her attempt of waking up and entering reality. Cobb felt responsible for her death and as a result, imprisoned his thoughts of her in his own mind, as a way of repressing the guilt he felt in providing the reason for her death.
The team of extractors decides the best way to ensure the success of this inception is through the relationship of Fischer and his father. Because inception is such a risky procedure, it requires a layered sequence of dreams to make sure the idea is firmly planted. Saito joins them in order to make sure the inception is successful. The different levels of dreaming are done through different members of the team with Yusuf being first, followed by Arthur, Eames and Cobb’s limbo. When the objective is reached on each level, a “kick” is initiated waking each person in the shared dream from one level to the next until they reach reality and exit the dream world. As the first dream-level is shown to the audience, Saito suffers injuries from the force protecting Fischer’s mind. As a result, the objective needs to be met much quicker because, unlike in an extraction, when death occurs during a multiple layered dream, you are sent to a state of limbo instead of reality.
Perhaps the most explosive portion of the film takes place in Cobb’s dream. He confronts Mal and comes to the realization that inception successfully took place with her when he planted an idea in her mind. Thus, his repressed memories of her will never bring her back. This realization prevents him from initiating the kick out of limbo so he can find Saito and rescue him. As he rescues him and exits this world, the end scene shows him with his children again but when the answer as to whether or not he escaped the dream world was about to be revealed, Nolan cleverly cuts the film and the end credits roll.
The beauty of this film is the emotion, visuals and storyline. Cobb is the emotional hub of the movie with his back-story revealed in doses throughout the film. The visuals do not overpower the movie; instead, enhance the dreamlike state of each level. In the July 30, 2010 issue of Entertainment Weekly, Nolan talks about the scarce use of CGI. Instead, large rotating sets were created, especially for the gravity-defying scenes in Arthur’s dream.
A recurring element in Nolan’s film is emotion. He draws you in with the emotion, makes you think and feel invigorated. His films spark conversation and debate, a true sign of a downright amazing director and movie. And because of that, I cannot wait to enter into the mind-bending world of Inception once more.