Me: Haven't we seen this preview before?
Me: You know, I don't even want to watch the preview again.
Lut: I was just thinking that.
Inception was good. I will put spoilers behind the cut-tag.
There are three obvious interpretations of the film:
* "Straight": The opening sequence on the beach is limbo, with Cobb going to get Saito back. The rest of the film is flashback, until Cobb wakes up back on the plane. Then he's back in the waking world. All of the apparently "waking world" sequences are in fact in the waking world.
* "The Waking World is real, but Cobb never returns to it": All of the nominal "waking world" sequences are real except for the last one: Cobb cannot pull Saito back out of limbo and instead is trapped within a dream. A happy dream, this time.
* "Moll is right": Moll is convinced that her world isn't real because it isn't. When she and Cobb tried to wake up, they only climbed one level. They still needed to wake up to the next, and Moll couldn't convince Cobb to do it. Moll is alive in the waking world; Cobb is dreaming the entire film, including the end.
The film refuses (rightly, I think) to resolve these issues. The best argument in favor of the last option is the one faux-Moll uses in Limbo: the waking-world chase scene with COBOL agents shooting at him has a very dream-like quality, down to the increasingly narrow alleyway that Cobb is trying to squeeze through.
The best argument for the second option is the lack of a "kick" to pull Cobb and Saito back out. The film doesn't actually show a transition where Cobb and Saito get out of Limbo, although the suggested "Saito shoots them both" isn't wholly implausible: suicide is supposedly how Cobb and Moll got out of limbo.
The best argument in favor of "Straight" is Occam's Razor, I suppose. >:) There's also the closing behavior of the dreidel: in previous this-is-definitely-a-dream sequences, the dreidel always spins perfectly level and in one spot. In the ending scene, it doesn't fall but it's moving around and wobbling a little.
I thought "Moll is right" pretty early on, almost as soon as Cobb explained how she died. I did not expect the film to verify this hypothesis because on a meta-level, it is too pat. The big twist becomes "your wife is alive, you are not accused of any crimes, and you are not being hunted by nefarious mega-corporations. In fact, you have a perfectly normal happy life and all you needed to do was wake up". The big twist is never something this cheerful in movies with a big twist. The movie doesn't verify this possibility, but it doesn't exactly rule it out either. Which makes the ending fairly grim, if Cobb is indeed still dreaming.
So what did the rest of you think?