Friday, January 19, 2007
It's been said that watching a David Lynch film is like watching his dreams on screen. Since I usually have pretty f-ed up dreams, I can identify with that - in fact, perhaps that's a big part of why I love his films so much. Inland Empire really seems to take that idea to the extreme.
This meandering tale of an actress (Laura Dern) who gets lost in her current role and in-between the past, present, and future blended several images together: a young girl in a hotel room, a television show involving people in bunny costumes (the bunnies were my favorite part), an older foreign movie (the basis for the "remake" being filmed now), and the story of Dern and her leading man (Justin Theroux - who makes me swoon) in character and out in several different settings. The end result was more confusing than most other David Lynch plots.
There was some amazingly beautiful imagery, interestingly-framed shots, choreographed dance numbers, and trademark Lynch dialogue (as well appearances by regulars Grace Zabriskie and Harry Dean Stanton) that made me really like the film. Jeremy Irons injected some hilarity as the director, and this may be one of Dern's finest performances - the range of emotion she conveys is astounding.
What I didn't like was the grainy quality of digital video, the scenes so dark I couldn't see what was going on (reminiscent of Lost Highway), and the over-abundance of tight close-ups on the main character's face. See, a big part of what I love about Lynch is his ability to frame people in lush settings and colors, so that the film ends up looking more like a photograph or a painting - I like that he can take you completely away from reality, and the digital video camera he used gave a more realistic quality to the movie than I liked.
To be honest, I keep changing my mind about my feelings on the film as a whole. When I first starting writing this review, I was all set to tell you that is my least favorite Lynch film. Now that I've really had time to think my about it, my conclusion is this: It felt less like a film and more like pieces of art woven together - and it could definitely use some editing (its 172 minute running time made me lose interest a few times), but it's still essentially Lynch. My recommendation would be to see it, but only if you consider yourself a hard-core fan.