I feel I should start off by saying that, despite what prejudices some people may have about fans of Lynch's films, I'm not one to simply proclaim anything he puts out as the product of genius. Despite the critical acclaim, I felt Mulholland Drive and especially Lost Highway were rather un-formed, self-indulgent films that suggested Lynch had lost the spark that made his earlier work so fascinating. After watching (enduring?) Inland Empire, I'm delighted to say I was totally in the wrong.
There seems little point in trying to outline the plot seeing as (a) plenty of other reviewers have done and will do and (b) there isn't one.
Suffice to say, after the relatively straightforward first hour, Inland Empire's undercurrent drags the viewer deep into a 2 hour nightmare involving the Polish underworld, murder, L.A. prostitutes and people in 6-foot rabbit costumes. Themes and variations thereof are repeated and re-visited throughout the film with different people, in different places and/ or at seperate times. Occasionally, Lynch teases the viewer by providing brief glimpses or snippets of information that may give us a clue as to what might be going on. But, just as quickly, they're snatched away again.
It seem pointless even to mention that this film is likely to be very limited in its appeal and the 3 hour length only adds to its apparent impenetrability. But, for those able to keep an open-mind and just delight in being confounded for the duration of the feature, I believe there's no end to the number of times you could re-visit and find new aspects to it. I genuinally felt dis-orientated for several minutes after leaving the film.
I don't pretend to fully understand the meaning of the film (if there even is one), but Inland Empire has stuck in my mind since I first saw it more than 2 months ago. I can't give a film higher praise than that.