Pretty clever, huh? This is a very hard movie to review. I went to see this film the day after my 53rd birthday with my entire family and as we were walking out, the reactions couldn't have been more different. My husband said, "That gave me a headache," and my daughters each had a slightly different take on what they just saw. We discussed the ending for a long time (as I'm sure everyone does) and we still can't agree. But that is the point. If it had been cut and dried, it just wouldn't have had the same impact and lasting vision.
Christopher Nolan is pure genius. Only he can take a completely confusing story line (the incomparable "Memento") or the story of a superhero ("The Dark Knight") or a story about dream invasion and the extraction of secrets from deep within the mind (which is the basis for "Inception") and make them accessible, entertaining and mind-blowing. Plus he not only directed these films, he also wrote them. This may be partially why they work so well, to have the writer also direct, but it certainly doesn't always work that way. "Inception" stars Leonardo DiCaprio (in another excellent performance), Joseph Gordon-Levitt ("Brick" "500 Days of Summer" - an actor who has come a long way since his days on "3rd Rock from the Sun" and is on his way to being brilliant), the beautiful Marion Cotillard ("La Vie En Rose"), the always slightly creepy Cillian Murphy ("Red Eye" "28 Days Later"), an English actor named Tom Hardy who almost stole the show and Ellen Page ("Juno"), who I felt was miscast. Either she didn't quite get what was happening in the film (she wouldn't be alone if that was the case) or she just doesn't quite have the acting chops yet to tackle a film like this.
I would try to explain the story but I honestly don't think I can. Let's just say it starts with a dream, comes out of the dream with a powerful sequence of events involving a bathtub and electroshock, then continues with many other dreams and a fight scene that has Joseph Gordon-Levitt pounding from wall to ceiling to floor to wall and back to the ceiling. The visuals alone are worth the price of admission. It is also a story of the power of love and loss. Leonardo DiCaprio and Marion Cotillard play a married couple who fall victim to the destructiveness of using inception and the guilt that Leonardo feels over Marion's reaction to it. There are layers to their relationship that unfold slowly through the film, mostly through Leonardo and Marion's superb and subtle acting. There is also a wonderful scene very near the end between Cillian Murphy and Leonardo. Cillian's memory has been compromised by the Inception team for reasons that will make sense when you see it, but as Leonardo passes Cillian in an airport there is a brief moment when you can see that Cillian almost recognizes Leonardo but it passes. This is acting at it's best.
I'm dying to see it again now that I know the story so I can savor the visuals and find the clues to the ending that I know must be there.
It may be a trippy ride but it's one of the best movie rides of 2010.