Lisa Schwarzbaum
July 23, 2010 AT 04:00 AM EDT

I always planned to go back for a second viewing of Inception. But then Christopher Nolan encouraged me to rereview it, and now I don’t know whether the guy who made the movie performed inception on my dreaming brain, or if the idea was mine in the first place. This I know: The grade I’d give it the second time around remains the same as the first (a B+), but the elements that enchanted me or left me dissatisfied the first time have morphed and shifted in prominence and value. For instance, on second viewing, I was even less satisfied with the movie’s ratio of gamesmanship to emotional payoff. Perhaps this is what happens when the adrenaline of the new wears off. The relationship between the couple played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Marion Cotillard still feels like a convenience rather than a truth.

However, now that I was no longer absorbed in the sense-rattling experience of trying to keep up, the shape of the whole movie felt more elegant. The link between the opening scene and that same scene’s reprise at the end was strengthened. I also felt less…stressed, I guess is the word, by the psych-out into which we’re so mischievously delivered in the very last breath. So ultimately I felt even more delight this time around in the brainteaser aspects of the story and how Nolan conveys his labyrinthine notions of dream time. Whether Cotillard is in limbo, or DiCaprio is, or we’re all staring into a snow globe, the consequence is the same upon seeing the movie again: It’s a kick.

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