INLAND EMPIRE


Viewed – 26 August 2007 DVD

Well how do I go about reviewing this one? To simply put it, this was the strangest, most overwhelming and ultimately most disturbing three hours I have experienced in, well…ever.  David Lynch’s films are not easily catagorised, and his earlier opus Mullholland Drive was one of the wierdest films I had ever seen…and seemed to have been an all new high of surrealism even for Lynch.  Well here he has out done himself.

What story there is, follows what appears to be an aspiring actress (a remarkable Laura Dern) as she prepares for a movie role that could make her career, under the watchful eye of an acclaimed director (Jeremy Irons).  The film is said to be cursed though, as it transpires to be a remake of a Polish film that was never completed because it’s two leads were murdered.  Now this may seem a simple set up, but it gets very strange immediately (and even before we reach this point of the ‘plot’), as Dern falls for her swarve co-star and quickly finds her real life mirroring that of her on-screen character…then the roof caves in as this splintered narrative is torn inside out, as past moments meet future incidents and wierd dialogue seems to have meaning later on even though its near-impossible to figure out in what way.   Characters jump in and out of the film at an alarming rate until really – you haven’t got a clue what you’re watching.  At one point Dern’s character may be either a hooker imagining life as a Hollywood actress, or a battered wife imaging her life as a hooker imagining herself as an actress…or even later on, a different person entirely constantly watching events unfold on a TV screen who may be imagining herself as a hooker / battered wife / actress.  It’s all open to interpretation – and it gives you a headache you’ll never forget.

Now as a follower of much of Lynch’s work, I can appreciate some of the brilliantly strange imagery and the fantastic sound design that makes the hairs on the back of your neck have a hissy-fit…and some moments of striking camera work / editing and lighting really knocked me over.  Yet at nearly three hours – this assault on the senses is a little too much to contend with…and some images are so frighteningly off-kilter that I really hope to never see them again.  Naturally I understand the theory that some of the clues can be pieced together, but with the epic running time and Lynch’s insistance on no scene-selection … analysing this one would only prove nausiating.  Shame really – because on a visual and atmospheric scale – this is some of Lynch’s best work – but why does it have to be so ridiculously hard to follow?

The DVD features several interviews and featurettes…but if you’re hoping to find out more about what this film means or is trying to say – forget it … Lynch never offers an explaination for his work.  Bastard.

Verdict:  3 /5

If you have what it takes to give this one a viewing (and by that I mean patience, stamina and an appreciation of something entirely different) … then I think a read of some of the threads on David Lynch’s message board for the film (AFTERWARDS!!) would be very much worthwhile.

Message Board

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2 thoughts on “INLAND EMPIRE

  1. This is only the third Lynch I’ve seen (the other two are Blue Velvet and Mulholland Dr.), and I don’t think I could have ever expected this. It was truly nightmarish, in the best sense of the world and while even after a few weeks having seen it I can’t quite piece it together it’s impact is still lasting. I will have to rent/buy the film, but I don’t think it could ever compare to my theatrical experience.

    As a journey through the horrors of the subconscious, relating to fear of age, people and certain situations I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film do a better job at fully emercing the viewer into these horrors. It’s as if I’m stepping into my own nightmares that have been recorded, and pieced together carefully. Dern is brilliant, I’m surprised considering the dense-ness of the material she was able to remain so consistent.

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  2. Well last night I took a second look at it, and on closer inspection…things do begin to fall into place, and I do think I know what was going on – to some degree, and who the ‘real’ Laura Dern character is as apposed to her imagined idetities. It still sticks very much with me, and I am glad I own it.

    Lynch’s films can be a puzzle, and they some how cast a spell if you have the patience to get the most out of them.

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