*Again, if you haven’t seen the movie Inception, don’t bother reading this. Go see it; you’ll get a kick.*
I’ve gone back and forth on the conclusion to the film myself. I’m usually quite the Romantic, but in this case, I’m convinced he’s still dreaming. I’m not exactly sure which dream he is in though. I have two main reasons to support my opinion:
1. The kids are wearing the same clothes in the final scene as they are in the majority of images we see of them throughout the film, the images based on his memories and the images that are projections invading the other dreams. Maybe grandma was really bad at doing laundry, but I’m taking this as a clue. Same for the hair length, same height, etc. He was supposedly gone a long time.
2. When Cobb is on the phone with his kids, the girl sounds older than she appears to be in the final scene. She’s busting his chops on the phone, “Grandma says you’re never coming home.” The little girl at the end neither looks nor sounds like the chop buster.
I love that Nolan ended it with such ambiguity, and I’m having fun learning more about my friends and family as they defend their views. There’s one scene that’s been driving me bonkers though. When the main characters are at the chemist’s shop in the dream den downstairs, Cobb suppposedly wakes up after testing the sedative and attempts to spin the token in the bathroom. He is interrupted however by Saito, and we never get visual confirmation that he is back in reality. Indulge me for a moment here. What if, Saito has somehow managed to achieve inception on Cobb? I know there’s not enough evidence in the film to support this, but I’m having trouble explaining that scene. Cobb used the train speech to help convince Mal. What if Saito & co. used the “old man filled with regret/young men together” lines in the same vein? The first time he says these words to Cobb at the helicopter, Leo looks like he’s having a spot of deja vu. I know, I know, I’m stretching, but it’s fun to think about. If anyone has any other ideas for how to explain that bathroom scene, lay it on me like Coppertone 50!