Poor Ellen Page. While most everyone else in Inception looks ripped out of a fashion-magazine spread, she has to traipse around in Christopher Nolan’s version of graduate-student chic — ill-fitting corduroys, ratty jackets, and scuffed, oddly pointy motorcycle boots. When Page first shows up as a brilliant architecture student, dressed in baggy pants and, strangely, a neckerchief, she looks not only childish, but of a different movie altogether than Leonardo DiCaprio, who slinks through Inception in GQ-worthy custom three-piece suits.
As Dana Stevens put it in her review for Slate: “I never really bought Ellen Page as a dream-designing prodigy; when she first appeared onscreen in her indie-girl duds, all I could think was ‘This is a job for Juno!’” And it’s true; that alternative aesthetic has followed Page from movie to movie (Juno to Smart People to Whip It ) and clearly informs her character’s costumes in Inception (in real life, though, she seems to have ditched the thrift-store look for Hollywood’s standard glam). Which would be fine, if they’d at least gotten her a pair of pants that fit. Since Page plays the asexual sidekick, it makes sense that Nolan wouldn’t dress her as he does Marion Cotillard’s character, decked out in gorgeous, lingerie-inspired couture. And yet, did he have to make her look like a little boy?
According to our very informal survey of grad students (er, our friends), neckerchiefs are not currently a staple of the PhD crowd, and yet she dons one in every single scene. She looks like a cross between a boy scout and the Swedish Chef. Perhaps this is just another Nolan subconscious trick — Page’s character is stuck dreaming about her youth spent as a boy sailor? Regardless, there are better ways to signify that Page is smart and not the female character whom DiCaprio wants to sleep with than sticking her in unattractive, earth-tone duds. Like, say, giving her a pair of glasses.