Inland Empire (2006) Poster


User Reviews

Review this title
370 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
I would like a red plumb floating in perfume served in a gentleman's hat.
manythings7118 December 2006
Much can be said about David Lynch but I think the mistake most people make is to think that he is trying to create a coherent and straight forward narrative structure. He is working on a subconscious level in his mind. The idea comes before the reason behind the idea. In many ways this is how art should be created because any other way will feel forced and pretentious.

David Lynch is not just trying to f*k with you. Its not meaningless and its not pretentious. If you've ever seen his interviews he is one of the most humble and soft spoken directors I've ever seen. Justin Theroux did a Q & A after my screening of Inland Empire and he described working with lynch as light hearted and fun. The complete opposite of what its like to watch some of his films which are often dark, terrifying, and disturbing.

Inland Empire is a sister film to Mulholland Dr. As my wife put it, "Watching Mulholland Dr. helped me to understand Inland Empire." They are two sides of the same coin. Lynch still seems to want to take a stab at the evils of Hollywood. His concern for the well being of actors is strong but this time instead of a new comer (Naomi Watts) he deals with one older actresses come back role and like Mulholland Dr. their are the evil producers behind the scenes and even the added possibility of a cursed set.

I am a huge Lynch fan. I don't find his films hard to understand. I am not a very intellectual person but Lynch's themes are so simple. The visuals are to be enjoyed on their own terms especially when they seem not to fit with the rest of the film. A lot of lynch's trademarks return, the dual personalities, time folding in on itself, gratuitous nudity, and another tragic murder mystery.

While this film does feel like a retread of Mulholland Dr. it also stands on its own especially since it contains a much more upbeat ending and perhaps four layers of storytelling,good luck figuring out which is which. He also continues to experiment with sound and even sings the vocals to a song in the film.

I got exactly what I wanted from Inland Empire. The downside to this is that Lynch is sort of repeating himself and I hope that doesn't mean he's out of ideas or perhaps Mulholland Dr. did not yet exercise his disdain for the studio system. The film is part murder mystery and part lucid dream. It has dream logic and has a lot of fun with some of its bizarre dialog and incredible visuals. This film also has much in common with Eraserhead in that he's completely free to explore his ideas. No one is telling him to shorten the film, cut out scenes, or that it doesn't make sense. Its uncompromising and truly art without boundaries.

My only other criticism is that the digital video is just ugly at times. When the shot is static the amount of detail in the picture can be incredible but when its hand held and moving around its grainy and looks pretty terrible. I miss the polished look of his older films but I guess that is going to be another thing that sets this movie apart from the others. I highly recommend this film to the Lynch enthusiast and to no one else. If you aren't in on the joke then I cannot imagine you leaving the theater happy after three hours of pure, free from concentrate, unpasteurized lynch. I went to see this with my wife and my best friend needless to say only I loved it. Take that as you will.

297 out of 377 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The film Lynch has been working towards all his career
Thelonius_Spunk10 October 2006
I just saw this film at the New York Film Festival followed by a Q & A session with David Lynch, Laura Dern, and Justin Theroux. I will try my best to recount my thoughts while they are fresh, and incorporate what the film maker and actors had to say.

"I can't tell if it's yesterday or tomorrow and it's a real mind f---"

This single quote from Laura Dern sums the movie up fairly well. It is also one of the self- referential moments of the film that explores the audiences very thoughts while providing some comic relief.

Lynch's new film, INLAND EMPIRE, is similar to his other work, but unlike anything he's ever done, or I've ever seen before. As one reviewer aptly put it, it is a double reference to Hollywood and the inner workings of the human brain. Before I discuss the substance of the film I will briefly review the technical aspects.

First of all, the movie is not unwatchable (because of clarity purposes) as some critics had said, although I did see it at the Lincoln Center which has a beautiful theater and top quality facilities. The digital camera works well for this film. It lose some of the cinematic flourish of film, but also brings a more realistic, gritty feel to it that is appropriate for the theme. The lighting and production were top quality as usual for a Lynch film and the score sets every scene brilliantly. Often times we can't tell if the sound is diegetic or non-diegetic, but it makes no difference.

Lynch said that he used the digital camera to give him freedom. You can see much more movement in this film than his others, giving an almost voyeuristic feel. He also uses many close shots, and as always, obscure framing allowing ambiguity and confusion. Lynch really explores the freedom of movement and editing that is available with digital, and you can feel his energy and zest in the new medium. The moments of suspense and terror are so well done - there are several scenes that will literally make you jump - that I found a Hitcockian brilliance of using subtlety, indirectness, and sound to convey emotion rather than expensive special effects. Of course, there are other scenes that would qualify as downright freaky.

The movie is completely carried by Laura Dern, and not because she is in 90-95% of the scenes. Her character(s) morph and change so often in identity and time that it is hard to believe it is her in every role. Her range and ability to work consistently over so many years and under the conditions of this film is mind blowing. It is one of the finest performances I've seen by an actress or actor.

The film itself is hard to summarize. Most of you know the basic plot, but this really means nothing about the film. It has no type of linear story line and the converging and diverging plot lines are connected by only the most simple threads, time, location, memory ("Do I look familiar? Have you seen me before?") identity, and people who are good with animals. It would be a disservice to this film to try to find meaning or symbolism as I see some people already are. It is not a mystery to be solved, as Mulholland Dr. was (though that film never will be solved either). It is a movie that plays off of ideas, color, mood, it presents intangible emotions that we feel and internalize rather than think about and solve. Film doesn't need a solution to make sense, but it is typical for us to want solve things, to have closure. This film is better if you just let it wash over you and surrender the urge to find meaning.

The three hour running time makes no difference because the movie moves in and out of itself with no regard for time. Using so many scenes allows time to effect the viewer much as the characters themselves. As the characters question time and reality, the audience does too. As the scenes slowly build up, giving us reference, we start to wonder where we saw that character, who said that line before, what location fits into what part of the sequence and how, leading up to the Laura Dern quote I used before. It doesn't ask us to think, but to feel, and it does this better than any film I've seen. It plays on our emotions with intense sound and cinematography, grasping fragments from dreams, sliding in and out of reality, exploring nightmares, and asking us what time and reality really are. The film is also very self-conscious as I said before, and also makes many subtle (and not so) pokes at the audience. It also has some truly surreal moments of Lynch humor.

Explaining all this doesn't really matter because you will have to see it and take your own idea from it. I would recommend that you see it in a theater though, as it could never have the same impact anywhere else. I was skeptical going into this movie after what I had read, thinking Lynch had gone off the deep end. However, I realized nothing you read about it will make a difference once you see it, and that Lynch is in better form than ever. Ebert said that Mulholland Dr. was the one experiment where Lynch didn't break the test-tube. With INLAND EMPIRE he throws the lab equipment out the window. His freedom in making this movie, both with medium and artistic control, is unparalleled in anything he's done. He finally made a movie for himself and his vision, without any kind of apology or pretense.
471 out of 615 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Mulholland Drive on Acid
illuminousgurkin12 October 2006
I saw INLAND EMPIRE at the Venice Film Festival world premiere last month. I want to keep this review short due to the fact that writing in great detail about this film is useless. INLAND EMPIRE is an experience. An experience not to be written about but to be FELT. It is David Lynch's definitive work. It's everything he has ever wanted to put into a film and it's completely free from anyone else's taming influence. The film is suffocating, dark and endless yet paradoxically contains some of the director's funniest and lightest scenes. I was frightened, uneasy, overwhelmed and moved. My emotions were thrown into disarray several times during which I lost all sense of appropriate reaction. Do not expect the mystery of this film to be solved, but expect it to be finished. Do not expect your head to understand the resolution but expect that your heart and intuition will.

If you cannot decide whether to see this film or not, I implore you to get up and go. Whether or not you enjoy it, you will never see a film like this again. I also implore you to see it IN THE CINEMA. Do not wait to see it on DVD because the experience won't be half as extraordinary.
341 out of 468 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A quintessential "women's picture" for the new millennium!
lulumary14 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
***** SPOILER ALERT!!! ******* Lynch's latest moved me tremendously. I was a big fan of Mulholland Drive, and as one poster here asserted, that earlier film helped me to "dissect" this latest Lynch masterpiece. Lynch himself might think it improper or "uninteresting" to discuss what this film conveys, but "Inland Empire" is such a significant work of art it seems criminally negligent not to, its depth and honesty as profound as it is.

In every case Lynch portrays women's sexuality as powerful and without a shred of judgment, even if they are promiscuous, or prostitutes. Lynch acknowledges life's consequences, but without moralizing in any way. Laura Dern's actress character is a true heroine, an everywoman and bold protagonist.

The character watching the TV screen throughout the film is the actress in the first version of the film being remade by Dern and Justin Theroux. That actress was killed making the film, by her jealous husband after he discovered her affair with her co-star, and she now sits in limbo, crying from sadness and guilt (another theme in recent Lynch films, brilliantly realized in the fever-dream death hallucination of Naomi Watts' spurned, suicidal starlet in Mulholland Drive). The film was never finished or remade because it was subsequently thought of as "cursed", and the odyssey of Laura Dern's character purges that curse.

After consummating an affair with Theroux ("watched" by the suspicious, jealous eyes of her cold, threatening husband). Dern becomes haunted by the suffering spirit of the murdered woman, and all women judged and abused for their sexual choices. I loved the scenes with the women who slept with the actor, comparing notes - and with a real sense of solidarity, there is no cattiness or competition between them, they even admire each other's breasts. They are also stuck in a cramped limbo, their yearning embodied in their hip-swinging, yet robotic and joyless "Locomotion" boogie.

Dern's dark odyssey is her experiencing the actresses' pain, the women's collective pain – which she seems to choose to do, her character constantly revealing determination, strength, purpose. And the women heap their burdens on her, trusting her to save them. There are so many examples of this – the Mary Steenburgen character talking about a "debt that needs to be repaid" by the man who lives in the strange little house, the Japanese street girl confiding in Dern's dying character about her junkie/whore friend with the monkey, the strange confession of Dern's white trash woman who climbs the stairs. It all concludes with Dern's suffering a horrible, lingering "death". Then, triumphant at the end of shooting the film, she refuses to accept the kudos directed at her, her victory incomplete if just for herself. She "rises from the dead" to find the first actress in the room watching the events unfold and kisses her, as if to say, "I have endured this and now you are free". The woman's face brightens, she ceases crying, and reunites with her husband and child. Then, during the marvelous closing credits, Dern is celebrated by all the beautiful women, who are now dancing quite joyfully, as she sits on the sofa, beatifically observing the fruits of her efforts as the women sing about "POWER".

Dern is portrayed as almost Jesuslike in the themes of sacrifice, will, compassion. She willingly endures an odyssey of horror that leads to her "death" to save them all, whores, unloved wives and spurned starlets alike.

David Lynch is a tremendously sensitive, soulful and brave artist, who is just getting better and better. He understands that its not enough to just tell a story, he has learned to make us truly "feel" the story. Three hours was necessary. The bunny people are there, just like the homeless man/monster of Mulholland Drive, to set the stage for a suspension of the laws of logic and linearity, to invite absurdity and magical unrealism into our awareness, so that we can experience pure emotions like a sense of triumph, catharsis, compassion, empathy, unconstrained by the expectations imposed on us by conventional narrative. This movie made me cry, it made me feel so much! What an achievement. Bravissimo David Lynch!!!
46 out of 59 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Well..... here goes....
Mr Parker10 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie this past Monday morning at the NYFF (New York Film Festival but I'm sure you probably knew that already) and I have to tell you, I'm at a loss at how to even begin writing this review. I gave it a little time to sink in and I'll just try my best to give you something.

For one, as you probably already know, the movie is three hours long. It's one of those three hour movies where you really start to feel it about an hour and a half in. Now, I'm all for a movie of that length and sometimes even longer than that but really now, this movie should get cut down at least by a half hour. It's something that Lynch should consider but it doesn't sound like it's going to happen at the time of this writing. I don't mind watching a film where the director refuses to hold my hand and lets me work the details out for myself but watching this and trying to make any sense of it at all was like walking around in a dark forest with a blindfold on. After three hours of watching something like this, it does get tedious I'm sorry to say.

I read a review somewhere describing the film as "impenetrable". I can't think of a better word to describe it myself. If you were to ask me what this movie was about, I really wouldn't be able to tell you. Now, that's to be expected from a Lynch movie usually but this movie is probably the most abstract thing he's done, Eraserhead notwithstanding. The movie seems to be more about the feeling itself you get from watching it, rather than having any kind of real story to speak of. This feels very experimental, especially considering the fact that it was shot on DV.

I personally hope that Lynch doesn't give up on film completely because I think that while DV proved as an interesting choice in making this film, I think that very few people can give you beauty on film like Lynch does.

The movie is loaded with those signature Lynch moments of menace that seem to treasure slowly approaching the corners of long hallways where something horrible may be waiting. Lots of tense, dark scenes with eerie music that suddenly becomes an assault on the senses. If you think of the diner scene near the beginning of Mulholland Drive, you'll know what I'm getting at. Now that I think about it, the film reminded me of Mulholland Drive in that it seemed to have it in for the falsity of Hollywood at times. I got that out of it, at least.

The acting was superb. Laura Dern plays what feels like four or five different roles and her range is simply astounding. I've grown to appreciate Justin Theroux over the years and his character in this film is somewhat similar to the one he played in Mulholland, the cocky ladies man type but I really liked him in this. Also, this movie contains many of Lynch's old cast members and it was always fun to see who would pop out next.

What I really liked about the film was the soundtrack. It's full of Angelo Badalamenti's dark work and there's a couple of great songs in there as well. I downloaded Beck's "Black Tambourine" after hearing it played in the film. I will definitely pick up the soundtrack for this one if it is ever released.

There were surreal, beautiful moments that I should at least mention. There was a scene near the end involving a lighter that was really moving for some reason. There was also a kind of spiral, time warp, loop thing similar to when Bill Pullman answered himself on his house intercom (in Lost Highway). You'll see what I mean when you watch the film but it was definitely one of the better moments.

I love David Lynch, I love just about everything he's done but in all honesty, this isn't a movie I'm necessarily dying to see again. I really want to tell you that I loved the film but I honestly can't. I do appreciate the effort. This is a film unlike anything I've ever seen before, that much can be said. It's just as weird as anything else he's done and if you're looking for a good dose of Lynchian madness, believe me when I say that you don't need to look any further. There are many of those strange moments where characters say strange things or act strange in general and wouldn't you know it, even a musical number or two sneaks its way in. I appreciate the man and I appreciate the fact that he makes daring, original work. But this was borderline frustration.

I guess all I can say is that I liked a lot of it but at the same time, I really felt like I was wading through mental molasses trying to grasp what unfolded before me. There really is no sense in trying to make sense of this film but there's obviously some sort of story or message that Lynch is trying to get across that I couldn't get to and I think that's why I'm slightly put off. I didn't mind letting it engulf me in its strange universe but I think the length of it made it a little tough to appreciate fully.

I didn't even mention the family of bunny rabbits. Or the random visits to Poland. Or the Locomotion dance number. Or the screwdrivers. But you can see all of that for yourself and make of it what you will.

RATING: *** out of *****.

PS I really tried to write an honest review of the film. I sincerely hope that at the very least, I was able to give you an idea of what to expect.
109 out of 149 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Overstuffed, Overcooked Pseudo Psycho-Metaphysical Turkey
martys-728 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
David Lynch, the visionary director who created unforgettable films revealing darker realms of life such as "Elephant Man" and "Blue Velvet" and who brought to mainstream TV a deeper aesthetic and consciousness with the "Twin Peaks" series, unfortunately went overboard with "Inland Empire" writing and directing the worst film of his career.

"Inland Empire" is arguably Lynch's most ambitious effort: a meandering three-hour dive into a nightmarish dream world where all his previous themes and obsessions convey. There are enslaved women (Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks), women in trouble (Mulholland Drive), supernatural entities in other realms (Twin Peaks, Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive), dissociative fugues and alternative realities (Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive). As expected of a Lynch movie, the cast is top notch starting with Laura Dern and it even includes Jeremy Irons as a movie director. But the direction and the script fail to give us something of depth or a remotely compelling, entertaining story, therefore this Lynchean nightmare becomes endless, pointless, and ultimately boring. Each shot of dreary,dilapidated Polish buildings or empty and dark Hollywood sets become endless. Every time the character are hurting or menacing, the camera does a close-up distorting their faces or they behave histrionically as in the worst of the Mexican telenovelas. This is simply poor direction. These close-ups and long shots, among other cinematic pyrotechnics, are Lynch's filler to disguise the emptiness of "Inland Empire," Although both films are similar in plot and style, "Inland Empire" suffers compared to "Mulholland Drive." Lynch deserved the Oscar for that brilliant film which is memorable for its character development along a dark psychic ride, elements that are missing in "Inland Empire" replaced by a cheap thrills posing for art and profundity.

The plot is vintage Lynch, but it is the most convoluted, longest, and silliest of them all. Lost Girl, an enslaved woman in Polish hotel/purgatory watches shows on a psychic TV: a sitcom with supernatural rabbit people, scenes from a Polish film that never got finished because the leading actors were murdered, and the life of an American actress who starts in the remake of the Polish film. Nikki (Laura Dern), the actress, begins an affair with her leading man and freaks out entering an alternative reality becoming Sue, the white trash character she is playing in the movie. Sue is having an extramarital affair with Billy, a rich man, and lives with Smithy in the house of the movie set. Sue is psychically connected to enslaved prostitutes who teletransport themselves from the snowy streets of Poland in the 1940s to present day Hollywood Boulevard. The prostitutes talk about men, love, and T&A and suddenly burst into dance for no reason - they do a killer number with "The Loco-Motion" which is unfortunately too short. Sue's husband, Smithy, who is Polish, leaves for Poland to work with a circus. Sue goes to see Billy and Billy's wife beats her. Sue becomes a whore working Hollywood Boulevard with the dance-loving, space/time-jumping whores. The Phantom, an evil supernatural man who has Lost Girl enslaved in purgatory, kills an early incarnation of Smithy who was Lost Girl's lover. The Phantom hypnotizes Billy's wife who is the reincarnation of a Polish woman who was stabbed to death with a screwdriver by the original actress in the Polish movie. The rabbit people are also wise, older Polish men and have a séance with Lost Girl and they bring Smithy to talk to Lost Girl. The old men give a gun to Smithy to kill the Phantom. Sue gets stabbed with a screwdriver on Hollywood Blvd. by Billy's wife and dies. That is the end of the movie and it is a wrap. Nikki is congratulated by the director but she ignores everybody and walks away from the movie set remaining as Sue. She goes to the house where she finds the gun Smithy was given by the old men. She goes through some dark corridors and finds herself in the Polish hotel/purgatory where the Phantom is and as she shoots him his face becomes Sue's own distorted face. The Phantom dies and all the women are free and Lost Girl reunites with Smithy and her son. Then Nikki is back in her home and all the women have a big a party and some women shake their booties to a Nina Simone song. They are in a kind of good place, not purgatory. It is not clear whether Nikki/Sue was an invention of Lost Girl who had been the real murderer and was in purgatory or whatever; in the final analysis, it does not matter because the movie is empty and lacks any redemptive qualities.

It is hard to understand why some of the critics and audience fail to realize that this is a very bad film, poorly written and badly directed. Lynch is a true artist and has done some remarkable films for which he should be praised, alas, "Inland Empire" is a disjointed, tedious, nonsense mess filled with pretentiousness. If you want to waste three hours of your life with a superficial mind-tease filled with pseudo transpersonal psychology and collective unconscious references, see it at your own risk.
130 out of 183 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Kieslowski Films Joyce
tedg11 May 2007
I saw this during a period of extreme emotional stress, probably the best possible mode. It was also surrounded by my listening to "Big Fish," Lynch's book, read by himself. The contrast is astonishing: Lynch's banal aphorisms in the book with rich, multilayered cinematic literacy in the film. Yet another lesson in relative articulation and the notion that an artist often is the worst authority on himself.

Let's have no mistake: this film is important. I place it on my list as one of the two films of 2006 that you must see.

There's a lot to say about this. I think I'll let others comment on Dern's attunements, and the general notion of the story having to do with guilt and sexual desire.

I'll comment only on two aspects which struck me. The first was how Polish this movie is. Its Polish within the story of course: a good half of the action involves Poles. The plot device is a Polish curse that somehow bends time and causality. And there are some Polish locations as well.

But the thing is shot using Kieslowski's mannerisms. Its a peculiar style that to my knowledge no one else has used. It focuses on two motions: that of the environment as space which governs and changes. And that of the characters in motion, but situated in the spaces. With Kieslowski, he literally splits these in the writer's mind by having his writing partner handle the noir bits, the controlling fate, and he handling the independently sprouting human seeds within. Lynch handles both sides by imposing schizophrenia.

But its Polish in other ways too. The actor as Golem. The environment as interleaved worlds, each creating the others by being. Its a Kabbalistic concept. Both are characteristically Polish, usually associated with Polish Jews, but more deeply Polish. You can see how Lynch understands this because he quotes "The Saragossa Manuscript," a Polish film about interweaving of kabbalistic worlds and the causal confusion that it brings.

The second thing is how he exploits this merger of folded narrative -- where actors write new worlds; layered emanations where worlds spawn others -- not parallel but linked in generative fate; geometric cosmology in which each act creates symmetries we encounter elsewhere.

He does all this by elaborating on the symmetries of cause. Ordinarily something causes something else, never backwards. Here it IS backwards, forwards, sideways -- all the eight dimensions that an advanced student of the Maharishi knows... causal symmetries that have a geometry that doesn't quite merge with the geometry of causality. Oddly, the story does make sense if you simply relax the causality a bit -- its much more accessible than the "Twin Peaks" meander.

I guess I should say that this is after the manner of the structure of "Finnegans Wake." Its not as elaborate of course. It didn't take 17 years and the deliberate intent of conflating all metaphors. But it is placed in a dream logic, a softening of the walls and hinges of what we make up as the logic of real life. Its Joycean through and through and not -- as some would say -- "surreal" as if anything not real is bent reality.

I know of a few filmmakers who can work with these notions: Medem, Greenaway, Madden, Ruiz. This is the most delicate and focused I've seen in a long, long while. You really must spend time with it. You must.

Here's a serious piece of advice though. See Lynch's "Rabbits" episodes first, separately, ideally a week or so ahead. Take them in as a standalone piece, a remarkable piece of film. Some of it is in this film, excerpted, extended, reshot and literally entered by all the Dern characters. But you'd be better having that anchor before starting this tempestvoyage.

Ted's Evaluation -- 4 of 3: Every cineliterate person should experience this.
153 out of 222 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A nightmare to remember: Lynch back on the edge
Chris Knipp7 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Inland Empire: it means Los Angeles, the place of Lynch's inspiration, but also the inward realm of the mind and of dreams, the surreal world of Lynch's imagination that uniquely inspires his visual poems. This new work, three hours long but unified by a savage and harrowing performance by Laura Dern channeling three or four or more overlapping personalities growing out of a lengthy free-standing monologue that was the film's starting point, is proof that the man isn't playing; hasn't lost his touch; still produces work unlike any other, work to be treasured.

DL explores a universe reachable only by going past the rational mind. It is a realm where a character, in the present case particularly the characters played by Dern (the press cliché is 'career-defining performance'), turns into other characters and turns again. It's a realm where there's another world behind the sound stage and that other world is another life, another identity, another set of terrors. And we go there; we come back; and we go there again.

After becoming the desperate monologist, Dern also became "Nikki," a movie star chosen with "Devon" (Justin Theroux) to star in a film, 'On High in Blue Tomorrows', directed by "Kingsley" (Jeremy Irons). And "Kingsley" works with "Freddie" (Harry Dean Stanton) a co-director who cadges money from stagehands and actors and apologizes saying, "I used to carry my own weight." On High in Blue Tomorrows turns out to be a remake of a doomed film, '4/7', never finished because both stars were murdered, and based on a Polish gypsy folktale. In the film Nikki, as "Sue," is cheating on her husband, and during the shoot Nikki's "real life"husband warns her not to do it for real. But of course she does: the film relationship parallels "real life," and the stars find they're confusing themselves with their film characters, just as it happens in Michele Piccioni's recent film, La vita che vorrei.

That expletive-strewn 14-page ("single-spaced") ur-monologue that anchors the film was shot in the back of DL's house with a Sony PD-150 digital video camera he'd started to use in connection with his website,, "a common midrange model" that sells now for $2,724. The monologue became the ground of being and the Sony became the simple visual tool that gave 'Inland Empire' its content and its visual style. Lynch has switched to DV for good, saying a sad farewell to the glorious beauties and cumbersome complexities of celluloid, and for this film embraced DV's limitations. He does not try to make it look like film. DL admits people say the quality is "not so good." "but it's a different quality. It reminds me," he says, "of early 35- millimeter film. You see different things. It talks to you differently" (NYTimes, Dennis Lim).

This reversion, if you will, to a cruder visual medium (but one that's in many ways more fluid, both for the actors – who can work through without pauses – and the editor – who has handy software – and the crew – who can be fewer, and work lighter), has stirred up the director's creative juices, brought him back in a way to the raw energies and immediacy of Eraserhead. Thus it's a return to youthful beginnings and yet something completely new. It's burning the bridges and rediscovering roots at the same time., which basically is what any artist to stay alive needs to do.

Dern anchors the film, but it has many elements that need anchoring. There is the disreputable husband of the disreputable monologist, who joins a Baltic circus.There's a woman played by Julia Ormond, who's first seen in a sleazy backyard with a screwdriver in her stomach, and later reappears as Billy's wife. And there's a Polish thread – which grew out of Baltic connections DL has forged and in the structure of ideas may trace back to the origins of the film of Devon and Sue (be the ur-'4/7'). There's a weeping Polish prostitute, watching a TV monitor on which appears a sitcom shot on a stage with people wearing rabbit heads; a laugh track creates a disquieting effect because the laughs come at "meaningless" points, giving the lines a sinister ring. Later the screen shows Sue. Slant magazine's Ed Gonzales smartly refers to the monitor as one of various "portals" through which characters merge into other worlds (go through the looking-glass; fall through rabbit-holes). Clearly it's all in the editing, and those who feel DL's creations are chaotic and portentously meaningless overlook his canny sense of structure.

There's a group of pretty prostitutes in a motel room, who talk to Laura Dern's character and sing and dance, "Do the Locomotion," and then at the end lipsynch Nina Simone's "Sinner Man" behind the closing credits -- one of the great closing credits of recent decades, a rollicking, gorgeous episode, which cheers you up but still contains flashes (Laura's face) that haunt you with memories of the strangeness and terror that's passed.

These are some of the interlocking boxes of 'Inland Empire'. DL mocks the idea of the "real" while using the concept to slide in between worlds.

All this is gloriously cinematic.

The film "technically" has no US distributor, though it has many European ones and the French Studio Canal signed on early at the stage when DL said he was using DV and didn't know what he was doing.

The whole of 'Inland Empire' perhaps "resembles the cosmic free fall of the mind-warping final act in Mulholland Drive" (Lim), but on the other hand it has someone to "identify" with (if you can stand the ride) in Laura Dern, who dominates the film and threads it together. Her full-ranged performance is sure to gain much mention at year's end.

After fifteen years of disappointment with and doubt about DL, it is possible to love his work again.
183 out of 273 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
One of the few films to actually scare me - a wild, beautiful trip
SweeneySkip3 December 2006
I just saw the NY premier of Inland Empire, and it was so refreshing to once again be transported in a way only David Lynch can transport somebody. Inland Empire is Lynch at his best - funny, thoughtful, eerie, beautiful, dark, deeply disturbing, and terrifying in a way that few horror films have ever affected me. The film is a slow burn, taking its time (about 3 hours), leaping through realities and bizarre encounters, continually keeping the audience asking themselves what reality they are experiencing, and what that reality means.

Laura Dern gives an outstanding performance as the tagline's "girl in trouble." She goes to places I don't ever remember seeing her go, from the naive to the terrifying, truly exposed. I've heard Lynch is campaigning for an Oscar nod for Ms. Dern, so maybe this is the one. She really blew me away.

This film - like all of Lynch's endeavors - is certainly not for everyone. It's vague, bizarre, jumps all over the place, and at times is deeply frightening (one of the few films in a long time to actually give me nightmares), but in my opinion it's also truly beautiful, almost serene. If you like a linear, clear-cut story, then don't see this film. If you appreciate non-linear, surreal drama/horror, however, then by all means go see it. Lynch is independently producing this, so I know he's banking on a lot of word of mouth for Inland Empire to be successful. Help him out. It's a fantastic film.
133 out of 196 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Lynch's Best Film, Hardest to Watch, Yet Most Rewarding... A Masterpiece.
surenm18 December 2006
Inland Empire is the Man with a Movie Camera of the 21st Century. It is the most experimental, surreal, and technically brilliant film I may have ever seen. Lynch proves that all he needs is a simple DV camera to show the world the entire range of human emotions and the human experience from the happiest to the darkest moments we must go through to achieve salvation and cleansing of the soul. This film is not so much about a particular story or narrative as it is about analyzing, exploring, and creating a visual palette for ideas about traveling to and from the past, present, and future as it relates to our constant journey back and forth into our own psyches and our collective unconscious. Each of Lynch's films explores the mind in terms of Jungian philosophy, focusing particularly on The Shadow; however, Inland Empire goes further in this direction than any film previous to it. If Mulholland Drive was 25% a dark and surreal suspense thriller ghost story and journey into the nether regions of the mind and 75% classical, yet not necessarily structural or connected narrative, Inland Empire is 10% straight narrative and 90% raw psychological horror ghost story.

The journey is long and hard but at the end you will be rewarded with the kind of peace and serenity that can only come from a meditation this long, deep, and powerful. I was filled with only inner bliss as I left the theatre and slept like a baby, completely at peace. This is David Lynch's most powerful film and speaks volumes on the many unexplored topics of how this medium can communicate, terrify, and heal in ways we have not yet even begun to understand.
230 out of 358 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Brilliant film if you're a Lynch fan, if not, you may hate it.
ticalmc2k216 December 2006
First off, this is easily the most confusing and bizarre of all of David Lynch's films, even more so than Lost Highway. I think it's also the most bizarre film I have ever seen. The film is harrowing and creepy and Laura Dern is incredible in her performance. I never thought she was capable it. Fans of Lynch will love it, especially those who think Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway were his best. Average filmgoers will most likely be bored (it's 3 hours long) or think it is Artsy crap. Lost Highway is probably his most comparable film based on structure, technique, and bizarre elements, although it would not be entirely fair to use Lost Highway as a basis for judgment. One of the only things that keeps me from giving it a higher rating is that there are a couple scenes which seemed to drag on a little longer than necessary. Inland Empire at first is reminiscent of some of Lynch's older short films because of the way it is filmed. It is gritty, shaky, and even gives a documentary feel at first. While it is still not his best, it's among them and it's what Lynch fans have come to expect and love.
106 out of 163 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
when someone's work you love disappoints
gcatelli22 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
{i checked the 'Contains spoiler' box with ironic intent: this movie has no plot to 'spoil'.} 'show business' is only an oxymoron to those who don't understand that unless there's a dialectic between what the audience wants (escapism without real consequences) and what the artist wants to convey (that he/she has a unique vision that must be taken seriously), what you wind up with is meaningless navel-gazing.

if there's too much control by "the suits", you wind up with "Home Alone XX". with just the right balance between suits and a visionary artist, you may get masterpieces such as "Blue Velvet", "Lost Highway", and "Mulholland Drive". however, once the lunatics are in charge of the asylum, all too often the result is an incoherent mess like "Inland Empire."

Woody Allen has made a career of dramatizing insights derived from Freud. analogously, the tapestry that connects Lynch's work is the mad interplay among the Jungian themes of Shadow, Self, Anima, and Animus -- but, however much (or little) dreams may illuminate our waking reality, dreams that have no referents besides other dreams, if that, merely obscure rather than illuminate.

after a beginning that suggests we may be in for another fascinating closeup of the Munch-like horrors lying just beneath the surface of the Norman Rockwell reality we still cling to when our guard is down in a movie house, all too soon we find ourselves sitting through 3 hours of boring non-sequitors.

the scary scenes don't scare, the sexy scenes don't arouse. because one of the most fundamental drives of the human psyche is to find meaning (something that artists of the absurdist school might pause to ponder), the viewer's attention winds up being riveted on Lynchian tics like light bulbs and overapmplified sounds of the background noise on a long distance phone call (or is it the sound of bathroom plumbing? -- who knows or cares?). the unintended result is that it feels like a parody of Lynch done by Mad TV. (it's too loud, too lacking in any subtlety, and just plain too ugly for SNL).

one of the less commented upon features found in all of Lynch's films from "Blue Velvet" on is that they are visually gorgeous. "Inland Empire" looks like a video-to-film transfer shot on a cheap camcorder. (indeed, from what i've read, it WAS shot on a cheap camcorder.) it's sad, and disappointing, to see a great artist lose his way. Let's hope Lynch is back to his otherwise superb form in his next film.
50 out of 74 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Is it brilliant or rubbish? Well, for my money it is both and worth seeing regardless
bob the moo17 February 2008
Whenever I saw Mullholland Drive I enjoyed it because it was such an experience but yet had much for me to try and figure out – as hard as it was to do so. Funny then to watch Inland Empire and think that in the future, if it continues this way, that we will look back on Lynch's earlier films as his pre-weird period, which is strange when you watch Wild at Heart, Blue Velvet etc. However this is the place we now find ourselves with Inland Empire, a film that not only shuns narrative tradition but behaves as if such a thing has never existed. And to watch the film, well, you just need to accept this and deal with the fact that if you have even a slight grasp on the story then you should consider yourself lucky.

If you can accept this then the film is flawed genius; however if you cannot accept this then the film is a shambles that will make you hate it almost as soon as you realise you will not be able to get to the bottom of it just by watching it tonight. The funny thing is that both camps are right in their comments on this film because it is at once brilliant and terrible – Jonathon Ross summed it up surprisingly well when he said it was a "work of genius – I think" because the impression left on me was just this.

On one hand the film is almost impossible to follow and it is not just a glib remark to say that this does make Mullholland Drive feel like an episode of Eastenders in regards accessibility. The plot starts out as a mystery but pretty much disappears into a series of semi-connected fantasy (?) sequences where characters complete switch worlds and identities, terrifying characters loom large but yet are invisible to the viewer and a sitcom featuring rabbits is watched by a girl crying in her room. There is little here to help the viewer and there is simply no foundation for you to put one foot one and say "right, no matter what happens I know I am on firm ground here"; the film doesn't pull the rug from under the viewer – there is simply never a rug to begin with. To many viewers this will be the end of discussion but for my money I already suspected this would be the case and what I actually came for was the experience.

In this area the film is both brilliant but yet flawed. It is brilliant because it literally does feel like you are falling through worlds of dreams. Lynch manages to shoot his scenes with the air of them being slightly (or totally) unreal. The effect is completely unnerving and an example of the power of cinema that he can move the viewer into such a place mentally that even a static shot of three people dressed as rabbits is quite terrifying. It is a skill he is famous for and he shows no sign of losing it. As an experience I found it engaging to a point and, unfortunately, that point was not 180 minutes. It is ironic to praise the film for its freewheeling experience but yet criticise it for being undisciplined but yet here we are because it does feel very much like a film where Lynch needed someone to say "look, you need to make it as tight as it is exhilarating".

Nobody said this I think and as a result it outstays its welcome at times and the dips are just that much more pronounced. Fortunately it is not consistent but it does come and the conclusion of the film is worth staying for. Not narratively you understand (even though the threads do come together) but some terrifying scenes give way to closing credits of beautiful women dancing to Nina Simone's Sinnerman; does it make sense? Well no, but again it is all about the experience and in this regard it is fairly consistent. Another reason for seeing it is a performance from Laura Dern that only begs the question why she didn't manage to get an Oscar nomination. OK it was a tough year for actresses with Cruz, Mirren, Dench and Streep filling out the list but for my money Dern is as good if not better than all of them. Lynch plays out so much confusion and emotion in her face, with this making some scenes a story without a single word being said. Given how hard it is to understand what is happening in the script, it makes Dern's convincing performance all the more impressive. Below her nobody is as good but everyone does suit the material and Lynch's approach.

Of course aside from Dern, the star is Lynch and his fans will come to this way the same Bruce Willis' fans come to a film because he is in it. His direction, editing and cinematography is masterful, which only really leaves his writing. Superficially he does fall down but yet he also produces a flow he understands as well as some brilliant specific moments – a line where a black homeless woman says "It's OK, you dying is all" is a wonderfully insightful remark that is all the more impacting for the throwaway delivery of it, a matter-of-fact summary of life on the streets in a tiny part of a bigger film.

Overall then this is an impressive film that is as brilliantly bewildering as it is frustrating. Some will find meaning but the vast majority will be best served to treat it as an experience rather than a "film" as one would expect from any other director. Even on this basis it is not perfect and is easily too long to sustain but in this regard it is still worth seeing. Not sure if it is entirely enjoyable but for sure it is an experience I'm glad I had.
16 out of 21 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
This can't be true
z_kerekes14 November 2007
First of all I wanna make it clear that I've always liked Lynch's films, found them interesting, strange, beautiful, etc. BUT this is something so awful that it should only be used to torture people, to make them suffer and to brainwash them for more than 3 damn hours. I can't believe that from all the people who had helped in this "film" none of them had the guts to say to Lynch that 'I'm sorry, you know that I respect you, your work and your artistic freedom, but I personally think that maybe you should change a few things because this is TERRIBLE!' I don't know, perhaps Lynch wants to retire and maybe he thought 'why not make my last film the worst film of all time so that people would be shocked?' Please, don't get me wrong, I'm not shocked (not even close), I'm just deeply disappointed in David Lynch and I truly hope that after this nobody will ever want to work with him again. Keep the man away from the cameras!!!
41 out of 61 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Art (Not really possible to write a spoiler, but there is an interpretation here)
mstomaso7 January 2007
Lynch has very high artistic integrity.

Lynch will never tell us what any of his films are about - if indeed he knows or would ever admit that a film might be about something in particular. There can be no evaluation of any specific interpretive approach. There must be such an approach, whether conscious or not. Lynch would likely disagree. He's right - and some of the disappointed reviews expressed here by his fans are nice examples of why this is so. I am sure he would also understand and agree with my rebuttal - "Who cares, it's fun"

When fans either gush about the brilliance of a piece of work or resort to name-calling ("pretentious hipsters??"), the film is, like most works of art, not going to allow much of a middle-ground.

A lot of smart and well-written reviews here on IMDb treat the technical aspects of the film. This review is not about HOW the film was done, but rather WHAT the film does.

If you haven't seen the film, try this review on. If it doesn't fit, then I can't recommend seeing Inland Empire. If you do keep reading, get it into your head that there is no spoiler here, really. The interpretation offered below is not even an opinion -it is simply a facile, creative construct I use heuristically for talking about the film after my first viewing.

If you have seen this film, you will probably view the interpretation below as too simplistic - that is, if you got it. That's fine. I do not care, but feel free to send me a note if you want to discuss it. Keep in mind - as I stated above - I am simply using this interpretation as a means for discussion. Don't take it too seriously, I really don't care to defend this.

Laura Dern should win two academy awards for Inland Empire - for Best Actress as Nikki and for best supporting actress as Nikki's role of a lifetime - Susan. But she won't get nominated because this film will be systematically ignored by the mainstream.

Why bring up acting talent so early in the review? Because this inherently non-linear film (though it is more linear and plot driven than Eraserhead, Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway) offers one of many possible (possibly an infinite number of) linear interpretations - the film is/could be about acting and losing one's identity in a role. It could all be going on in Dern/Nikki/Susan's head as she comes to grips with what she is doing in the three levels of "reality" portrayed.

If this particular interpretation were chosen, the free association between the roles played by the Polish actress/victim/perpetrator of the film "47" and that played by Dern's actress/victim/perpetrator in "Blue Skies" create a meta-text which, though unseen and unexplicated throughout the film, nevertheless identifies its subject as the disassociation and power of performance and creativity in the production of fiction/reality/drama.

This interpretation is suggested by all of the many seemingly out of place and jarring details in the film - the usual red herrings Lynch throws at us to suggest that there may be some linear subtext in all of the sensual experience offered by his sumptuous, immersive films.

  • scenes from the Polish film

  • reenactment of the film by Susan - possibly in her dreams or fantasies

  • The placement of the Polish actress into a couple seemingly disparate and unconnected roles (which, in fact make the creation of "Blue Skies" and the folklore surrounding its predecessor "47" unite at a different interpretative level)

-The rabbit people performing within the television with an incoherent but suggestive script and an absurd laugh track

  • and especially their audience (key to this interpretation because of its chronological placement in the narrative and the identity of the viewer).

-Nikki's opening and closing scenes and Grace Zabriskie's foreshadow which identify closure for the meta-plot.

  • The seemingly anachronistic white noise and record-cutting scenes and sound-cues, which occur at crucial transitions between the alternative realities inhabited by Nikki's disassociated personalities.

If any of you find this interpretation compelling and would like to hear more about it, feel free to send a note. It is, in my opinion, just as worthless as any other interpretation of art - probably better left unexpressed and unexplained. But if having something linear to talk about helps you, you are welcome to further pursue it. Do not mistake this interpretation as an opinion. I have no opinion concerning the plot of this film.

For my part, I completely understand the film through and/or without the interpretation above.

Which pathway to the palace (is it Alan Smithee's House on the set?) I might chose, whether through the back alley or the front entrance to the studio (as the interpretation above offers) - I get it - just as I always "get" Lynch more than most directors.

For fellow admirers of Lynch: IMO, This is a more coherent film than Eraserhead, a more upbeat and enjoyable film than Lost Highway, a less commercial film than Mulholland Drive (though it does bear some thematic resemblances largely because both films are overt self-referential interpretations of American media culture). You might talk about it for hours afterward, but this discussion will mostly only help you to know the people you attended it with better. Let it pour through your mind and soul.

No profitable comparison to Lynch's more linear films can be made, although, on a second viewing of IE I may wish to spend some time thinking about the connection between the exploitation themes in Elephant Man and this film.

Of course, the directing, camera work, and especially the sound design are flawless. Goes without saying.
139 out of 229 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
ponghia8 September 2006
I saw INLAND EMPIRE at the Venice Film Festival and I think it's incredible... surely the most strange Lynch's film. A terrible nightmare of about 3 hours! I love Lynch's films and I think that INLAND EMPIRE resumes his whole filmography! And I want to underline also the interpretation of Laura Dern. She's absolutely fantastic! You can't pretend to understand completely the story (it's more confused than Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive...) but you'll be captured by the sounds, the lights, the changes of rhythm... David has written the screenplay day by day and also the actors couldn't understand what they were doing... I think you should see this wonderful film of one of the best contemporary director.
225 out of 386 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Three hours of my life I will not get back...
samgeaney2 December 2012
Previous to seeing this film, I would have considered myself a big David Lynch fan having enjoyed many of his other films but after seeing this... I am starting to have doubts.

The film is badly shot, badly edited, badly scored and looks far more like a student film rather than a big director.

The whole film is completely pointless, goes nowhere and does not allow the viewer to make any sense of it. The way I feel these kind of films succeed is if the director gives the viewer something to work with so that after the film has ended their mind is a maze of ideas trying to make sense of what has been seen. Mulholland Drive, Twin Peaks and Lost Highway all succeed very well in this but, with this film, the viewer is just left annoyed at having wasted three hours watching a film that went absolutely nowhere filmed painfully on a hand-held digital camera...

Don't waste your time with this pointless film. Nonsense to the max.

To use the phrase in a negative sense, YOLO so don't waste three hours of that life on this...
35 out of 53 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An vastly inferior companion piece to Mulholland Drive
Zbigniew_Krycsiwiki7 December 2007
Inland Empire is an interesting premise with an absolutely horrible execution. I've liked some of David Lynch's movies: Mulholland Drive was brilliant, Blue Velvet was good, Eraserhead was okay, and I've seen a couple of other of his movies that were not bad. I was eager to see Inland Empire but by the time I saw it I was disappointed and quite frankly bored to tears.

As I interpreted the story (if one wants to call it a story) it was about an attempted remake of an unfinished Polish film which allegedly was cursed, and the new leading lady now gets to the point where she can't discern the difference between her life and what is being filmed for the movie and what happened in the unfinished Polish film- and we, the viewers, are not intended to know the difference either. But that interesting premise is watered down to nothing in its ungodly three hour running time, good acting notwithstanding. There are too many non sequiturs (the rabbits from an earlier project, the girls dancing while the Locomotion or what ever the hell it was was blasting, the seedy alleyway conversations behind the AXXON N door, the lengthy scenes of people brewing coffee, far too many close ups of ugly people whispering to each other, and on and on like that for three hours) to honestly say that there was any point to any of it. The camera work looked like something out of a direct to video horror movie filmed on a $100 digital camera, which doesn't help matters. Eraserhead looked good because of its low budget filming, it added to the atmosphere, not so in Inland Empire.

Lynch overuses the quiet whisper immediately followed by screaming or loud musical score to the point of absurdity here. When that gimmick is used in every other scene, it loses its effectiveness, and merely becomes annoying. Almost all of the characters meander through bizarre living rooms, Hollywood sound stages and crumbling Polish factories, without anything to draw the viewer into what is taking place.

Lynch's 'Mulholland Drive' was brilliant: it had suspense and was intentionally funny, often times simultaneously (Winkie's anyone?) with great acting by all involved, and well photographed on the streets of Hollywood. Despite not making sense on first viewing, there is a somewhat discernible plot which only becomes apparent in time and after watching it repeatedly, and it also leaves many things to think about afterward, and makes the viewer want to go back and watch it again. Inland Empire had none of these. Mulholland Drive starts off almost making sense, but then two thirds of the way into it, Lynch pulled the rug out from under the audience's feet, to perfect effect. Inland Empire never gives anyone a chance to grasp at any thread of a plot, it never gives the viewer anything more than badly photographed images. No suspense, no humour, nothing.

Initially, I didn't understand Mulholland Drive but it stuck in my mind and I wanted to go back and watch it again to figure it out. I don't understand Inland Empire and don't want to understand it either. I don't have too much of a life, but still, I can't talk myself into sitting through this three hours of digital vomit again, just to try and figure out *if* there is anything to it.

I feel like I should take another shower after having watched Inland Empire, and then watch Mulholland Drive again.

* out of ****
36 out of 55 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
"Being David Lynch" not by Charlie Kaufman but lynch
iniyanarul29 April 2019
Like the movie Being John Malkovich It's a really a terrific reality & subconscious of being David Lynch. Nomatter how you find your way out, this film is a "do not touch" labled drug in Lynch's basement.

The film started like it's improvising a knot yet with no starting and ending of the rope in the dark. It must have took a lifetime to script these thoughts through the paper. And way of dialogues were so peculiarly remaided the knots of the story as a loop.

At some point its also kind to a Director to think about how his story affects the person who plays in it. And to Lynch its a kind tour of his brain to me it's 3 hours slow falling.

To be true there was a little hopeless times about whether the story would be reasonable but it was flushed exactly as I wondered
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An Alan Smithee Film?
hjbhjb14 May 2007
At least it could have been worse ... but only if it had lasted even more than 3 hours ;-).

Let me get a few things out of the way first: I am a great admirer of David Lynch's early work, up to and including Lost Highway. I like movies that are not straightforward, that make you think and that leave space for your imagination and interpretation. And I consider myself to be open-minded and willing to wander off the beaten track ...

Having covered this, I must say that this was one of the rare occasions where I was dying for the movie to (finally) end - I left the theater thinking "what the f***?" and quite honestly if I had to put a headline to the whole thing I would call it intellectual masturbation.

Maybe Lynch is just having a laugh, viewing Inland Empire as an experiment to see how far he can go with audiences - or it is a revolutionary new concept in cinema where the director just supervises shooting and the audience explains what this is about in forums like this.

One of my spontaneous thoughts after watching this was: had this been the debut film of a rookie director fresh out of film school, my guess would be that he/she would be continuing his/her career making movies at children's birthday parties or silver wedding anniversaries.

Then on the other hand, maybe I belong to the minority of dim-wits who just don't get it - I can not rule this out. However, looking at the majority of raving reviews here, there is one thing that I would really like to find out: how many of those reviews are based on a genuine appreciation of the movie, and how many were written because it's just so en vogue to celebrate Lynch films and you better not admit that you came out of the theater thinking "geez - I didn't get it ..."

I would love to do an experiment: show 3 hours of CCTV or traffic cam material, taken randomly from a department store, office building or a traffic light on a deserted road, and add some opening titles stating "Directed by David Lynch" - my bet would be this film would earn an average vote of 7.8 here and lots of interpretations/explanations, all starting with the statement how great the lack of narrative helps the deeper meaning of the movie.

But maybe this finally is the ultimate Alan Smithee film - and I must admit that it left a deep impression in urging me to write this long comment ;-)
53 out of 88 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Lynch cheats
Boris-5713 January 2008
Fact # 1: Lynch is a genius and one of the very few filmmakers who have reached the point of image-perfection (others include Terence Malick, Kim Ki-Duk, Herzog, but also Wong Kar- Wai and maybe Nic Roeg)

Fact # 2: I found Mulholland Drive completely comprehensible; in fact it is my all time favourite film (together with Kim's Bin-Jip), with Blue Velvet close on its heels and Lost Highway a bit further down the top 30. I saw MD 5 times the week it came out.

Fact # 3: I *never* walk out on a film *ever*, but watch the thing till the very last closing caption.

Fact # 4: After a considerable time of viewing Inland Empire, I glanced at my watch (bad sign in itself), saw we were 2 hours in and so had 1 more hour to go. I didn't hesitate, but got up and out of the theatre.

Tons have been written about this film, so I'll keep it short: Rabbits dates from 2002.

What do I mean by that:

1 - The fact that it's utterly incomprehensible (well, maybe not totally, but hey) does not bother me, nor the fact that it's artsy - even though I think Lynch should stop meditating.

2 - What *does* bother me is that he does not seem to be able to choose. He discovered the hand-held camera. Cool. He's created the most cut-up story ever. Cool. But (a) somehow he doesn't seem to be able to combine the two; (b) he seems to have little confidence in it himself. Some of the shots work, like the dancing scene. Some shots work with the hand- held. But sometimes he uses his old filmic language with the hand-held, and it DOES NOT WORK. It gives the impression that what you're seeing is actually the evolution that Lynch's style has undergone in the past 5 years, without him being able to take position. Emblematic to that problem is the fact that Rabbits-parts are included, which include Mulholland Dr actors, and which dates from 4 (four!) years earlier, filmed in his "moving painting" style.

In short: I had the impression that Lynch has evolved, and that this would have been a great film if he'd been honest to himself and keep only the radically new bits, instead of keeping everything in, leading to an inconsistent hodgepodge.

Maybe it's telling that in last year's DVD-issues of Lost Highway (or was it MDr?) he actually *explains* part of his storytelling technique. For a master of the non-explaining, this is an omen. Lynch should burn his old pellicule and start from scratch. Try to amaze himself with something he doesn't already understand.
52 out of 88 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
As a Lynch fan I was disappointed.
turner_cinema2 September 2007
I am a fan of Lynch, I have a book of interviews on him, and a book he wrote about creativity. I thought Mulholland Dr was a masterpiece, and yet INLAND EMPIRE disappointed me.

Its not that INLAND EMPIRE is bad, its just that after all the praise its received I felt that it should have been better. This is basically a Lynch experiment, not a Lynch film. He seems to be utterly fascinated by all the new "gizmos" involved with digital film-making, and thus instead of a story we get a 3 hour film of Lynch having a good time with the new digital era.

For a short while, INLAND EMPIRE almost ALMOST has a plot. Laura Dern plays a washed up actress, Jeremy Irons is a film director, and they set about making a haunted film. I have to wonder, knowing Lynch's style, if this isn't just some joke on his part. Releasing an incomprehensible film and seeing just how many snooty film critics will proclaim it as a masterpiece. Ultimately I can't shake that feeling that this is just Lynch getting sloppy, rather than making a coherent film (which takes work) he instead opts to make an incoherent film (which takes absolutely no work).

Considering I had to wait five years for the next Lynch film it is understandable that I was underwhelmed. Still I think Lynch is very interesting and I will be first in line for his next film, because when he gets it right, he gets it VERY right.
77 out of 136 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
crime against humanity
gotb-125 August 2007
Releasing this film into the world was a crime against humanity. David Lynch should be tried in the Hague. It wasn't so much a film as it was a 2 hours and 50 minutes bout of emotional vomit onto the screen. Dark, disjointed and incoherent. The sound recording was physically painful to hear. Half the dialog was either whispered or mumbled contrasted with screeching and roaring background noises. And don't look for help understanding the words from subtitles unless you speak French. It had two sets of French subtitles and none in English or any other language. This may have been done as a favor to hearing impaired non-French speakers. Many scenes were too dark to see anything at all. In a film of this length the DVD came with no scene selection.(really) It did however come with a video calibration feature which allows the viewer to fine tune his picture so he can see the dark, intentionally blurred and black and white scenes just as the the director intended. I may now understand what it would be like to have a very bad LSD trip while in a mental institution and suffering from Botulism. The talent of Jeremy Irons, Harry Dean Stanton and many others was completely wasted with no plot or meaningful dialog. Laura Dern did demonstrate great acting ability in a series of disjointed scenes. Shame it was wasted in this stream of unconsciousness. I would like to see her do more actual movies. I have followed David Lynch's work starting with Eraserhead and have kept watching because his films are strange and different. I think he reached back into his Eraserhead bag of tricks here but this time pulled out a turd. The difference is that in Eraserhead the characters suffered. Here only the viewer suffers. We all would have been better off if he had just colorized Eraserhead. This film was so bad that it retroactively ruined most of his previous work. At this point I would say that only Wild at Heart and Twin Peaks are worth watching. Every copy of the rest of David Lynch's films should be destroyed. Not turning this thing (whatever it was) off after 10 minutes was one of the worst mistakes of my life. Worse than dropping out of college. Worse than not marrying my high school sweetheart.
31 out of 50 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
You were expecting another "Mulholland Drive?"
robertllr29 September 2007
Let me start by saying I've admired every single Lynch film to date, and I've seen all his feature films—not only all the original work, but also the non-auteur stuff (like "Elephant man," "Straight Story," and "Dune") as well.

Moreover, "Mulholland Drive" is on my short list for best movie of all time—a hands down perfect piece of art. And I really liked "Lost Highway" and even found "Eraserhead" engaging.

However, I must say the first 90 minutes of "Inland Empire" ranks as some of the most boring and pretentious film making in the short history of the art. I can't speak for the rest of the movie--as 90 minutes of unrelieved murky shots of Laura Dern looking distressed, while the dialogue-obscuring sound track of a B-movie organ drone desperately tries to create some kind of suspense--was all I could stand.

Lynch's images have always been arresting, sometimes even pretty. But he seems to want to play against that here, creating choppy, grainy, bad-home-video-style visuals that just beat down the viewer trying to let them flow. Hey! art should require its audience to work for its pleasure and meaning; but the effort required here is just too much for me.

I think film should tell a story with pictures—hopefully a complex story with emotionally and intellectually engaging pictures. But this film is just ugly chaos.
80 out of 143 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Dreams of a Dying Empire
WriterDave14 August 2007
Taking the murderous jealous husband theme of "Lost Highway" and melding it into the dreams of a tortured actress theme of "Mulholland Drive," David Lynch fluidly immerses his recurring dark fantasies into a story revolving around a Polish-Gypsy legend and a cursed movie production and delivers his most experimental film since "Eraserhead" with his epic three-hour "Inland Empire."

The most experimental part of this is Lynch's use of a hand-held digital camera to shoot the entire film. While I personally prefer the deep texture of film over the superficial sharpness of digital, much of Lynch's trademarks translate surprisingly well to the new medium. Lynch's hyper manipulation of lighting, fading in and out of absolute darkness, super close-ups, transposing of images over one another, and making some scenes literally dissolve into the next frame, all come across sharp and artistically satisfying. There are points, however, where Lynch so repeatedly shows Laura Dern walking down dark hallways and dimly lit staircases into moody savagely lit rooms decked out with weird lamps that I half expect the director's next project to be a home decor line for the film-noir enthusiast.

There will be those who wish to discuss the plot of "Inland Empire" and insist on figuring it all out. Upon first viewing, I decided to simply enjoy the ride. At three hours, there's lots of filler involving chatty and dancing prostitutes (who play the role of a post-modern Greek chorus and at one point do a rendition of "The Locomotion" that is both horrifying and hilarious), a sitcom staring talking rabbits, and some sort of complex story involving a Polish carnival, while inter-spliced into the madness is a wicked little psychological thriller about an actress who literally gets lost in her new role. The best morsels are the interwoven scenes of Laura Dern (beat-up, harrowing, and with a cool Southern drawl) waxing poetically in monologue fashion about her tragic love life to a man (presumably a therapist) and some beautifully shot scenes that take place on a dark snow-covered street in 19th century Poland that seem to have been exorcised from a completely different and dreadfully thrilling film. Lynch, however, gives many clues for those wanting to dissect the piece: 9:45, room number 47, a magic watch (similar to the ring from "Twin Peaks: FWWM "), the "LB" tattooed on Dern's hand, the letters "AXXONN" appearing repeatedly on walls and doorways, Grace Zabriskie's bizarre telling of an "old tale" when we first meet Laura Dern's character, and perhaps secrets hidden in the dialogue of the prostitutes, the rabbits, and Harry Dean Stanton. The film is so long, and so jumbled, however, that I think it's better to digest it as is, unlike "Mulholland Drive" which was exhilarating to examine "between the scenes."

Lynch, forever in love with Hollywood as a city of dreams, is again master of the disembodied scene. Like Naomi Watt's mesmerizing audition scene in "Mulholland Drive" (which in no small non-ironic way launched Watt's career into the stratosphere) there's a killer line-reading about thirty minutes into the "Inland Empire" where you don't really care what Laura Dern is talking about or what film she is in, it's just you watching her playing an actress getting totally lost in her lines, and it's beautiful. Lynch's masterful juxtapositions of the profane with the profound, light with dark, beauty with pure terror, no matter what non-linear incomprehensible way they are presented, are true cinematic treats to experience for those willing to open their minds to the ocean of possibilities.
12 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed