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Inland Empire [Blu-ray]
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David Lynch drama. Lynch breaks a long silence with a challenging piece of cinema about an actress going through some psychological trauma on the set of her latest film. Laura Dern plays Nikki Grace - an ingénue actress whose latest role - in a Tennessee Williams-esque fright of a film tests her to her limits. The director Kingsley Stewart (Jeremy Irons) is a cloying, creepy character. Grace is falling for her co-star Devon Berk (Justin Theroux) but if that was the central plot, this wouldn't be Lynch-land, would it? A parallel storyline shows an earlier attempt to make this film in Poland which ended in tragedy when the two lead players were offed. It's just shy of three hours of David Lynch at his eccentric, unpredictable best.
Though Inland Empire's three hours of befuddling abstraction could try the patience of the most devoted David Lynch fan, its aim to reinvigorate the Lynch-ian symbolic order is ambitious, not to mention visually arresting. The director's archetypes recognizable from previous movies once again construct the film's inherent logic, but with a new twist. Sets vibrate between the contemporary and a 1950s alternate universe crammed with dim lamps, long hallways, mysterious doors, sparsely furnished rooms and, this time, a vortex/apartment/sitcom set where rabbit-masked humans dwell, and a Polish town where women are abused and killed. Instead of speaking backwards, mystic soothsayers and criminals speak Polish. Filmed on video, the film's look has the sinister, frightening feel of a Mark Savage film or a bootlegged snuff movie. Constant close-ups, both in and out of focus, make Inland Empire feel as if a stalker covertly filmed it.
A straightforward, hokey plot unravels during the first third of Inland Empire to ground the viewer before a dive off the deep end. Actor Nikki Grace (Laura Dern) is cast as Susan Blue, an adulterous white trash Southerner, in a film that mimics too closely her actual life with an overbearingly jealous and dangerous husband. When Nikki and co-star Devon (Justin Theroux) learn that the cursed film project was earlier abandoned when its stars were murdered, the pair lose their grasp of reality. Nikki suffers a schizophrenic identity switch to Sue that lasts until nearly the film's end. Suspense builds as Nikki's alter ego sleuths her way through surreal situations to discover her killer, culminating in Sue's gnarly death on set. Sue's actions drag on because any sign of a narrative thread disappears due to idiosyncratic editing. Non-sensical scenes still captivate, however, such as when Sue stumbles onto the soundstage where she finds Nikki (herself) rehearsing for Sue's part. In this meta-film about identity slippage, Dern's multiple characters remind one of how a victim can become the hunter in their fight for survival. Lynch's portrayal of Nikki/Sue's increasing paranoia is, in its own confusion, utterly realistic. Laura Dern has created her own Lady Macbeth, undone by her guilt over infidelity. Even though Inland Empire is too long and too random, Laura Dern's performance coupled with Lynch's video experiments make it magical. --Trinie Dalton --This text refers to the DVD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Chased through different settings and universes by a malevolent entity known as The Phantom, her story collides with others, each one with it's own protagonists; A sitcom starring a family of depressed antropomorphic rabbits who constantly talk about time, a group of eastern hookers (who may be living either in the present or in the past), murderous wives and a lonely girl trapped inside an abandoned hotel room.
David Lynch's Ambitious and apparently final movie is a sure treat for fans of the surreal and darkly unsettling universe created by the director's earlier works, filled with trademarks and references, Inland Empire pushes the envelope even further than Eraserhead, right into the subconscious of the viewer; especially for the open-minded to this particular kind of experience.
The plot itself, highly confusing actually, sometimes feels nothing else but an excuse for Lynch's pleasure to showcase his most loved elements; double identities, dancing women, stroboscopic lights, scary glares, smoke and anything included in his Manual of the Weird, but is indeed a great example of self-celebrative cinema; a resume of Lynch's journey through filmmaking; not pretentious at all but a dazzling and unexpected essay of its own.Read more ›
A film so far above what Hollywood churns out it's sad that there are so few on David Lynch's higher level of consciousness.
There were many bits that genuinely made me laugh, and I don't know if I was supposed to. The Japanese girl at the end was very cute and I really liked the band of merry ladies that surrounded Ms Dern.
Dreams, time, consciousness, not wanting to think about tomorrow, corridors, stairs, lights, lamps, rooms, buildings, people, life...Inland Empire...
Very highly recommended.
Some have justified this by saying it isn't meant to make sense, it just is. For me that isn't good enough. I want to know whether a certain incident takes place in the main film, the film within the film or within the actress's "inland empire" of the mind. If that question has no answer, I will want to know what all this weirdness, mystery and incoherence achieves. Does it add up to some real insight about this unfortunate lady's mind or does it just tell us that she was as deranged as we feel on leaving the cinema?
Mulholland Drive passed this test. You couldn't express the events of the film as a logical narrative but you felt that the strangeness pointed the way to an understanding of what Lynch was trying to say.
What about Inland Empire then? I wasn't convinced.
A lot of the film consists of shots in dark blurry corridors or unidentified faces in unidentified places. The idea that a film about a stupid person should have a stupid plot, or that a film about a dark and blurry mind should be dark and blurry so people don't know what they at looking at, is not a sound artistic principle.
If I describe to you a weird dream I had comprising a series of weird events, it won't be interesting unless I show how those events are symbolic for actual events or conflicts in my life so that you can see the contorted logic taking place within my mind. I could not identify any such logic in Inland Empire. Maybe a second viewing would have convinced me, but I didn't feel like watching it again.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An incredibly ambitious and original film that really transports you into the head of its protagonist. One of the most intriguing and absorbing films I've ever seen.Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
David Lynch masterpiece? not according my opinion. Quite hard to follow and does not make logical sense all of the time. Never the less is intersting and impressive. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
Personally I find this the best Lynch movie by far. Okay so it doesn't appear to have a story you might comprehend fully but what you get is a weird set of experiences that might... Read morePublished 13 months ago by LeBrit
A virtually impenetrable filmic experience but a film that needs to be seen nevertheless. Whole websites are devoted to unravelling the ' plot ' but in my head the plot is... Read morePublished 14 months ago by N. M. Fletcher
Deeply strange, and even more disturbing. This deals with some aspects of living in the general Hollywood area, then jumps back and forward to Poland. Read morePublished 20 months ago by James Caldwell