Newest Review: ... one another. The most bizarre thing is that all three are wearing rabbit heads. From start to finish, these rabbit people made brief app... more
A maelstrom of madness
Inland Empire (DVD)
Member Name: GentleGenius
Inland Empire (DVD)
Advantages: Well-acted, some good music, oddly compelling
Disadvantages: Totally confusing, far too long
RELEASED: 2006, Cert. 15
RUNNING TIME: 3 hours
DIRECTOR/SCREENPLAY: David Lynch
PRODUCERS: David Lynch & Mary Sweeney
MUSIC: Mark Zebrowski
Laura Dern as Nikki Grace
Justin Theroux as Devon Berk
Jeremy Irons as Kingsley Stewart
(also featuring Harry Dean-Stanton in a minor role)
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Nikki Grace is an actress who has been offered a part in a film, playing opposite leading male Devon Berk.
Kingsley Stewart is a very encouraging, supportive film director, but after a few screenshots, informs Nikki and Devon that the movie they are working on is a re-write of an old Polish film which was never completed, due to some sort of tragedy that halted its progress.
Before long, Nikki finds herself caught up in a bizarre, mutating set of circumstance involving strange and perhaps historic Polish people and a group of LA hookers, with a string of events that mimic the tragedy which stopped production of the original, unfinished film.
I think that's what was happening, anyway!
Having seen and enjoyed a few of David Lynch's films, I reluctantly took the plunge into watching Inland Empire, a little put off at first when I discovered it to be three hours long.
I was rather confused initially, as one of the early scenes in the film consists of three adults, two men and one woman, in a living room. The woman is constantly ironing, and the trio talks in flat, monotonous voices to one another. The most bizarre thing is that all three are wearing rabbit heads. From start to finish, these rabbit people made brief appearances throughout the film - with the female rabbit character still doing her ironing - and I was completely unable to fathom out what their relevance or purpose was, but was able to take it in my stride with the realisation that David Lynch both thinks, and makes his movies a long, long way outside of the box.
My confusion continued as the film progressed, and to be honest, I hadn't the remotest clue of what was supposed to be going on, but I was simultaneously transfixed, unable to tear my eyes away from the screen. Usually if something is this baffling, I'll give it say 30 minutes then switch off when the going becomes impossible, but for some reason I allowed myself to withstand, fascinated, the full three hours of this totally bewildering film.
Inland Empire does have a very large cast, but the only characters who make consistent appearances throughout the proceedings are those I mention above, with the lead role of Nikki being excellently and faultlessly played by Laura Dern. She expressed a wide range of emotions with a perfection that would be hard to equal, let alone beat, and it really must have been a very difficult part to play, so she receives my outstanding commendation.
It was also good to see Jeremy Irons, as he's someone I've always had a fascination for, plus it was also good to see one of my Hollywood heroes, Harry Dean-Stanton, although his part in the film is relatively minor.
The film's music for the most part is very avant-garde, consisting of strange percussive noises, hums, buzzes and choral voices. However, a few other little surprises appear, namely, amongst others, At Last by Etta James and Little Eva's The Locomotion. I was quite impressed by two songs at the end of the film, the first being a heartfelt - in an intelligent way - love song, followed by a delightfully unusual reggae-influenced piece. The main avant-garde type score appears, according to the closing credits, to have been snippets of Polish and German music.
It is very difficult for me to say why I found Inland Empire so compelling, bearing in mind that I spent the whole three hours of viewing time with a massive question mark prodding into my skull, utterly unable to work out even the surface of what was supposed to be going on. It could be that I was enjoying the ultra surreal elements, together with lots of clever camera angles and some interesting special effects. The storyline is tinged with very definite sexual undertones, put across in a slightly 'dirty' way, which isn't uncommon for David Lynch. He seems to have a fascination with the underworld, street life and sexual situations which border the exotic, and Inland Empire is no exception in this area.
This is a film which demands the viewer's full concentration, and even with the affording of single-minded focus on what is happening, it is still virtually impossible to understand, yet strangely fascinating at the same time. It isn't something which would in the slightest appeal to people who prefer a solid story with a beginning, a middle and an end, as David Lynch films rarely happen like that, especially this one.
Even as I am typing this now, for some reason I just can't get some of the scenes from Inland Empire out of my mind. It has certainly stuck and made an impression on me, possibly because of its power more than anything else. This is, despite its crazy, disjointed, bitty presentation and baffling storyline, a very penetrating piece of cinema. I'm not sure I'd watch it again, but have no regrets about giving it three hours of my time.
In summary, I would recommend Inland Empire to anybody who likes David Lynch films or is fascinated by very over the top bizarreness, but as said above, if your movie preferences are for all things straightforward, then you'd probably loathe it....and, three hours is a long time to stare at a screen, impossibly trying to make head or tail of something which just isn't your cup of tea.
At the time of writing, Inland Empire can be purchased on Amazon as follows:-
New: from £3.75 to £19.99
Used: from £3.43 to £15.94
Some items on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
Summary: David Lynch's weirdest yet!