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In Inception there is the following dialogue between Cobb and Ariadne (forgive me for not being word-accurate):

Ariadne: Why can't you return home?

Cobb: Because everybody thinks I killed her (Mal).

...

Cobb: Thank you.

Ariadne: For what?

Cobb: Not asking if I did it.

I am not completely sure how to interpret Cobb's reaction here. It may be obvious, but while he seems to really thank her for not asking (maybe believing she doesn't care or believes he didn't do it), to me he seems kind of angry or annoyed when saying this. But it may be just me misinterpreting his behaviour here (or the German synchronizer distorting it).

So how is his reaction to be interpreted (while this sounds like an open discussion question, I guess there was a clear intent by the writer how his reaction should come across):

  • Did he indeed thank her along the lines of "Thank you for not asking, it's refreshing to see somebody not caring about it and just concentrating on the work."?
  • Or was it more like "Thank you for not asking and just trusting me not to have done it."?
  • Or was it really a sarcastic thank you and an angry/annoyed reaction, like "Thank you for not asking! You're thinking I did it, don't you?"?

I tend to the more obvious first version, but he just seemed kind of angry to me, which would favor the third version.

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I hope the analysis take is justified, feel free to remove it if you don't think so. –  Napoleon Wilson Oct 8 '12 at 17:37
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he doesn't come across as a really extroverted get along with everyone guy in the movie, so i think he meant it when he said thank you despite sounding angry because he comes off as a much serious professional in the movie. –  Dredd Oct 8 '12 at 18:06
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After Cobb said "Everybody thinks I killed her". Some thoughts are obviously going in Ariadne'd mind (can see in closeup) and given that she doesn't know much about him personally at that time she might be thinking what every other person in her place thinks which is whether he really killed Mal. I think Cobb knows that she is thinking the same and sarcastically thanks her for not asking the question in her mind. So I think its option 3 listed in your question. –  Mani Oct 8 '12 at 19:02
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1 Answer 1

up vote 8 down vote accepted

He does sound a little angry or bitter when he says that line. You could put that down to him suspecting that she is thinking that question, which would indeed make it slightly sarcastic.

However, given his circumstances: a man wanted for murder, a man who operates with criminals on a daily basis who are unlikely to keep their thoughts to themselves - it is likely that this is not the first time he's had this conversation, and that other people have been less generous in their presumption of his innocence, or even just less likely to keep silent when told.

My impression from that exchange was that he had had that conversation before, and was bitterly pleased that she had not immediately asked him the question. Bitterly because he probably knows it is in her mind, but that she has not blurted it out. He says the 'thank you' fairly soon, so also managing to head-off the chance that she is about to ask. He manages to both imply that he believes he is innocent, without the embarrassment of having to deal with the question directly.

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completely agree. –  Mani Oct 9 '12 at 7:02
    
+1 Great answer, thank you. –  Napoleon Wilson Oct 15 '12 at 15:32
    
@ChristianRau - why thank you :-) it does help that I've watched this movie about 10 times. –  iandotkelly Oct 16 '12 at 0:40
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