Dorian Thompson wrote:
Cobb was still in a dream. He told dream Mal that he and she had grown old...spent fifty years down in limbo. We see a shot of two people with obviously aged hands walking hand in hand....yet.....when we see a shot of the train coming towards Mal to force her to wake up from their fifty year sojourn down under, she still looks young.
That's been on my mind too, but I think the train scene was one level up from limbo. Recall that Cobb explains at one point that they'd been going very very deep, but he doesn't say how many levels. Possibly another clue that the top level of the entire film is a dream.
For me the film is far less deserving of praise, other than as a simple shoot-'em-up, if it is not all a dream (or if at the very least the ending is not a dream).
How do you make two child actors look "a few months older" when they didn't age that much in real life? That didn't bother me. Had Cobb been away from his children 4 or 5 years you could change the actors, but he wasn't.
A few months or years is hard to tell either way on kids.
They were in the same spot, moving the exact same way, with the same weather, clothes, & hairstyle as he remembers. Pretty strong hints.
If that wasn't a deliberate attempt to convey something, then it's really sloppy. There wasn't even any need for the kids to be in the final scene, or to make it ambiguous if/how he gets out of limbo. The top is among many deliberately ambiguous things, or things that strongly suggest he never awakens.