Originally Posted by PRBronco
Regarding the "the whole movie is his dream" theory: Can someone help me remember, when he's on the phone with his kids, and he has his gun and top on the table, he spins the top. Do we actually see it stop spinning? I can't get this movie out of my head!
I remember that scene because the second time through it made more sense to me. The top stops spinning, after which he safeties the gun and puts it down. I took it to mean that the Cobb was doing a self check to see if he was in reality or the dream. If the top had kept spinning, he would have shot himself to wake up.
Here is the thing about Nolan, as a director, he tends to be honest. If one of the characters tells the audience something during an exposition scene, then Nolan will stick with it. For this reason, I tend to discard the notion that the entire movie takes place in a dream. The entire scene with the totems is specifically meant to establish the rules for what is and is not reality. Also, Nolan seems to take great pains to establish how the characters arrived at each scene that takes place in reality, even if it is only a couple of lines of dialog. This plays along with the theme he introduces early on in the film that you never really remember how a dream starts. A lot of the dream sequences start in media res, suddenly throwing the characters into a new setting. But the scenes set in reality have a set up, explaining how they got there.