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Archive for the ‘Inland Empire’ Category

Inland Empire – review – Film Comment #26

Film Comment – #26 – Inland Empire – David Lynch – 2006


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When I first saw “Inland Empire” with my brother at the Music Box theater in 2006, we both walked out of the film, walked a few blocks down to Hye Bar, ordered a pint of beer each, sat there in silence, took a sip, and I believe I proclaimed, “That was either the biggest piece of shit I’ve ever seen, or the greatest film I’ve ever seen, and I can’t wrap my head around it right now.” I think we continued to the sit their contemplating what had just occurred before getting serious headings and deciding that playing Golden Tee golf would be a much better idea right now.

“Mulholland Drive” seems like a distant pleasant walk in the park after watching “Inland Empire”. This is the fourth time I’ve seen the film, and each time I’ve thought it was about a completely different thing, or perhaps multiple things all wrapped in to one. A lot of the film has to do with the surroundings the film is watched in. I can’t tell you another film recently that relied so heavily on the viewer’s own atmosphere. Watching it in the theater definitely added to the intensity of the film. This time around I was watching it late at nite after work, and seriously I had to turn it off at one point because it was freaking me out.

The film is a nighmarish dreamscape involving seemingly unrelated plot points. The film begins with two people speaking in Polish with blurred out faces, in what we can only believe is a prostitute and a client. We then move on to a girl crying hysterically watching a TV program in which humans with giant rabbit heads sit on a couch, which is accompanied by monotone dialogue and laugh tracks in the background. From there we have three basic story lines. One includes Laura Dern shooting a film, that is a remake from a previous film that had disasterous consequences. Soon the lines begin to blur between reality and the film, and we cannot differentiate between the two. She involves herself in a relationship with the main character and his wife. Another plot concerns Laura Dern as perhaps a prostitute attempting to get away from a violent husband, and a third main plot concerns some eastern bloc prostitutes attempting to get away from their Polish pimps….I think. The plots soon begin to intertwine in Lynch’s own universe, perhaps telling the stories of parallel universes and multiple outcomes.

Laura Dern and Justin Theroux, the two main actors both stated that they had no idea what the film was about, and upon shooting every day they would attempt to decipher what was going on with their characters. Lynch would come in to the days shooting with a few fresh pages to shoot a scene. The scene would perhaps be a complete departure from any of the storylines currently being shot. Lynch himself has stated that it was a project that he just rolled with. He’d shoot one little piece here, and then come up with another little piece he thought was interesting, and then just see where it went from there.

I have become obsessed with deciphering the film upon my last viewing, but I’ve come to realize there is no definitive answer to “Inland Empire”. It is an experimental work of art in it’s truest form, from one of the most important directors ever. You will find whatever it is you are looking for in the film. He is attempting to reach out to the audience and have them create a meaning for themselves.

I highly recommend you pick up the special 2 disc DVD and watch all 390 minutes of the film plus extras. Yeah I know it’s like 7 hours almost, and yes you need to be in the right mind-set to attempt this task. There is an entire 75 minute long section on disc two entitled “More Things That Happened” that is basically a prequel, a sequel, deleted scenes, whatever you want to call it, to “Inland Empire”. One thing is for sure David Lynch has a serious pair of balls to go out and make this film, and for that he should be commended.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I believe that “Inland Empire” is the most important film to come out since “Pulp Fiction”. I think it has brought back that idea of independent filmmaking, and the very real possibilities for a new generation of filmmakers.

Grade: A+