“Inception” is one of those clever, suspenseful movies that delight the sci-fi-techno crowd, but is truly frustrating to the more linear thinkers, who want their story lines clean, clear, and chronological.
            Leonardo DiCaprio play Cobb, a dream weaver of the first order.  He, in collusion with his team of anonymous inventor geeks, have figured out how to insert themselves into another person’s dream.  This has great implications for the highly-nuanced field of corporate espionage.  What if you could somehow enter the mind of your competitor, thereby both stealing secrets and planting the seeds of doubt, confusion, and paranoia?  Sounds absolutely devilish.
            Actually, the nascent technology hasn’t turned out all that great for Cobb himself, who managed somehow to plant the seeds of doubt in his own wife, appropriately named Mal (Marion Cotillard), who’s now the nemesis that keeps appearing in his own dreams as a projection of his guilt over her terminal confusion.  Sound complicated?  Wait until they start talking about administering strong sedatives so the participants can descend into the second and third levels of dreaming, where time slows down and mental functions speed up, and physical danger becomes an adrenalin-rush unreality because we are somehow still aware that we can just escape by being awakened?
            It’s an interesting role for Ellen Page, of “Juno” fame, to be the neophyte Ariadne on Cobb’s dream-weaver team:  she still appears to have that wonderful guarded openness, so perceptive and adaptable that she catches on very quickly; so quickly that she notices the inherent dangers the others don’t.  It seems Cobb is working through his own back story, which he brings with him to the project, of course, because it’s a prominent part of his subconscious.
            Michael Caine has a nice little cameo as Cobb’s father-in-law;  he doesn’t even have to pretend to act any more;  just being himself is screen presence enough, and we don’t forget which character he plays, either, even after an extended absence.  Cobb is trying to work his way back home, and we know that somewhere he’s going to have to make some hard choices, while still fending off the minions of bad guys in the dream state, projections of other’s natural defenses, and letting go of his unreal fantasy of his beautiful, beloved, Mal, and reluctantly accepting the new reality that to choose her is to be forever consigned to a Limbo of un-being.
            At the end, Cobb tells Ariadne that she’s going to need a “totem”:  a physical trinket that enables her to distinguish reality from fantasy at any given moment.  Actually, seeing this film, we’re all going to need one.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas