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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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INLAND EMPIRE. A David Lynch Odyssey.
louiebotha14 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
It was said that the Orson Welles flick "Citizen Kane" taught people how to watch movies. I am convinced to many people wants to drill down to the truth in David Lynch's movies. Build it like a kid's puzzle in other words. DL jokingly said that he does not understand them either, and that all the interpretations valid are. But at the same time, it is not very original to conclude that the film is ¾ the dream of a women waking up around the end. I do think Inland Empire is dreamlike, but dreamlike mostly in a metaphysical way.

It is fun to grapple with the illogical elements in the film, to look for what Alice found in the rabbit hole. One is confronted with unexplainable events every day. For example, the other day, as I walked behind x I had the intention to tell her that she appears a bit 'white' in the face, but I decided not to. At that point she glanced over her shoulder and asked, "What did you say?"

For me, it works to decide which parts of the movie are true, and let the rest of the understanding spin of from these premises, using metaphor, parallel realities and surrealism. But I believe one should enjoy this film solely on the impact the spectacularly related scenes deliver in it selves, without concocting meaning to it.

Storyline: An actress (Nikki), casted in a movie "On high in blue tomorrows' is playing (Susan). Nikki is married to a very prominent Polish Hollywood player and on the point of betraying her husband with her co star, Billy (Devon Berk). It is secretly a remake of a Polish, cursed movie. The movie transgresses into surrealism almost immediately after Nikki doesn't realize that a line she played in a scene is only part of her role, and not in 'real' life. She walks thru a door with some kind off curse in graffiti written above, and grapple for the rest of the movie with madness. In a way the film pokes metaphorically at the movie-making industry, which can be viewed as 'filmed life' threaded parallel to 'real life'.

I think the group of dancing girl's portrayed different personalities of Nikki (watch her expression while they talk); they also emerge traumatically after Nikki had sex with Billy. One of them pointed out to Nikki, "It's strange what love does", a phrase, which tunneled a mysterious energy, and probably has something to do with Nikki falling in love with Billy, invoking the curse, getting some kind of split in her personality. I think the Polish actress who appears at the start of the movie deciding to watch a movie is in fact dead, in limbo, locked up in time, half born, in some minimalistic place where she mostly watches a TV program with 3 rabbits in a room. This room is severed with a feeling of what only they seem familiar with, of a deeper knowledge: What they are not going to tell us, but what we might find out. I believe this metaphysical plug in point is INLAND EMPIRE. She is likely the lost girl in the folk tale "A little girl went out to play, lost in the marketplace as if half-born...". She makes contact with Nikki, which is "a women in trouble", and seems to lead her in a good way, wanting her to escape the curse. For example, when the parrallel life Nikki saw ketchup on her husband's tshirt, it appears as if she could be dreaming his murder, and the Polish actress, who appears to watch this, murmurs "Cast out this wicked dream that has seized my heart". (My favourite line of the movie). At which point a murder with a screwdriver took place somewhere else. I think she also summits the psychologist (who appears to be one of the rabbits) to help Nikki.

Nikki's split parallel identities are a fantastic concocted mesmerizing mesh, but I think it symbolize mostly her schizophrenic adjustments to the situation she faces on a cursed set in a city of dreaming. And troubled the movie "On High…" is. This has likely something to do with the Phantom, or evil, who looks for a way 'into Inland Empire". I think the Phantom is the other coin end of the folktale "When the boy left the house evil was borne and followed him". Such is the haunting mood of the movie.

Look out for a 'lewensmoeg' Harry Dean Stanton, and his hilarious ways of getting some spare change from crew and actors. "I know I've got a lot of nerve, but it seems just like the other day I was carrying my own weight". And a terrifying scene with Julia Ormond, closely interviewed by a sweaty police officer, about a murder she is going to commit after being hypnotized. And also, this is a first rate performance by Laura Dern. I really liked the scene where Nikki's husband put his arm around Devon and give him some honest advice about the sacred vow of marriage.

I hope the decision of shooting the film on DV is not the actions of an old man getting a bit lazy (with all respect), because, for me, its lacks the cinematic grandeur of Mulholland Drive. In other words, it is not going to produce the same quality posters as Mulholland Drive. But it is a brilliant work, brilliant in its spectacular victory over the obvious, and brilliant in its portraying of the many dimensions we live in threaded closely next to each other. Do we want to 'break thru'? Do we want to dive into alternative realities, or force away the doors of perception? I think we do. Then maybe we should burn a hole into a thin piece of silk and fold it double and peer thru. And we should remember to wear the watch.
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First thought from a lifelong Lynch Fan
gsinnyc9 October 2006
Saw it earlier today at the NYFF. Lynch, Dern and Theroux in attendance...also Isabella Rosellini and Philip Seymour Hoffman in audience.

So much to think about, mull over, digest...but my first thought, before I come down: Take one copy of Eraserhead, one of Mulholland Dr., throw into a blender and mix. Pour and drip a la Jackson Pollock all over a blank canvas...and there's INLAND EMPIRE.

This is easily Mr. Lynch's most esoteric film since Eraserhead, but much more intense. Imagine the last 40 minutes of Mulholland Dr. expanded over three hours, folded over and over on itself...
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It's about a woman in trouble … but, which woman, and what trouble?
RJBurke194216 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Following Lost Highway (1997), and Mulholland Drive (2001), Lynch now treats us to Inland Empire (IE), another exposition about the human psyche. It has a multi-layered plot – but only one real story; 'real' in this context meaning the core story that Lynch wants to tell. There are so many plot threads and devices, in fact, that many reviewers use words like 'impenetrable', 'beyond explanation', 'surreal' and so forth. Like Lynch's previous two above, however, in my opinion IE's narrative is understandable, despite the apparent chaos that batters our visual and aural senses.

Because, batter it does, from the opening scene of an old phonograph scratching out a barely discernible message, as though foreshadowing the difficulty of understanding all that is to follow….

The film then continues with a literally fuzzy episode between a prostitute and her client discussing terms, all in Polish with English subtitles, and in black and white – or smeary gray, to be more precise; another metaphor, perhaps, for the shades of gray that permeate all our understanding of the world, ourselves and each other.

Then a quick scene change to a weeping woman, sitting alone on a bed, in what appears to be a hotel room, watching a TV screen with snow and static. She's distraught; she seems lost. Her eyes fixate on the TV screen….

Suddenly, an image of another woman walking towards a house flashes briefly on the TV, then the whole scene changes to a parody of a TV sitcom, but with giant rabbits and canned, inappropriate laughter: an obvious symbol for the inane and vacuous nature of most TV programming. After a few minutes, another quick scene change again to that woman approaching a house …which is now the house of Nikki Grace (Laura Dern), the star of a movie to be produced, called 'On High in Blue Tomorrows'.

The director Kingsley Stewart (Jeremy Irons) soon reveals to the actors that the new movie is to be a remake of a Polish production in which the female and male lead actors were murdered before the film was finished; and still remains unfinished….

And so, Nikki and her co-star, Devon Birk (Justin Theroux), begin the process of making the movie, during which they find themselves drawn to each other, to the point where they begin a torrid love affair outside of the fictional love affair between Sue (Dern) and Billy (Theroux) within the story being filmed … with tragic results, because Nikki has a very jealous, Polish husband. But Nikki is now enmeshed in something beyond her control; and the horror increases as she begins to confuse her identities, leading to a worsening nightmare of different situations, people and places.

There are apparently disjointed, unrelated and impossible scenes – for example, the Rabbit characters, Nikki/Sue suddenly assuming another identity, as a downtrodden housewife, as a prostitute, or being transported instantaneously to Poland – which appear at odd, random moments; there are, seemingly, nonsensical scenes of violence; there are time transpositions that offend logic; there are numerous characters; and, there appear to be direct contradictions about who is who. Occasionally, there is a cut to the weeping woman on the bed, still watching the snowy TV and, much later, Nikki/Sue appears on that same TV and seems to look directly at that woman….

Complex barely expresses the point: this is Lynch's most challenging film to understand. So, what's really going on here? Lynch uses every trick of the camera and sound to subvert our perceptions of what's actually presented. And that's precisely what happens in our dreams, where so often nothing seems to make any sense. So, is it only the weeping woman who is in real trouble; or is it Nikki, with her love affair, spiraling out of control? Which is the real story? Who is the real person? Here's a clue: when Nikki and the weeping, TV-watching woman meet for the one and only time, you can decide for yourself.

Beyond the narrative, however, this film is arguably the most introspective and self-referential story about Hollywood and what it means to be a star. It implicitly explores the degree to which an actor can be overtaken by a role to the point of obsession or madness. Unlike the prior two movies, however, IE ends on a note of hope – real hope – that the whole acting process need not end in personal disaster (as it so often has, for some hapless actors). The closing scene of a most beauteous Laura Dern, as herself, is exquisite proof, and a direct counterpoint to the horrific end of Mulholland Drive.

At three hours, this is a long movie, so some may feel that length. But don't give up on this film: it's the type of movie – like all Lynch efforts – which invites repeat viewings because, make no mistake, Lynch always has a message and a real story to tell. He's an artist of the highest caliber and all artists want to make a statement with every work of art they produce. Otherwise, the art is fake.

This is also Laura Dern's best performance. When you see her transform from Hollywood star, to downtrodden suburban housewife, to sleazy streetwalker, to femme fatale – all in the same narrative, you'll appreciate her skill, one worthy of an Oscar but which, unhappily, never came. Kudos also to the supporting cast, even the brief few seconds that William H. Macy is on screen.

The cryptic title may refer to Riverside and San Bernadino counties, as some say. I think it simply refers to each body as being an 'empire' for the persona within, and for each of us to explore throughout life.

Lynch had a lot of fun making this film, no question. Join his fun by watching it, right to the dancing girls as the credits roll….

Copyright © 2007, Roger J Burke.
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Three hours of pure David Lynch insanity. I'm in Heaven. And everything is fine.
mahmus27 May 2020
Laura Dern gives probably her best performance. The final moments are some of the most terrifying, yet moving moments in all of David Lynch's filmography

I don't know why this movie works so well. Lynch's films are great at pulling you into their world and just make you accept all the craziness

Maybe it's because I know how David Lynch movies works, so I know what I'm getting into. If you don't know what you were getting into, then I'm sorry you had to find out this way.

If you wanna get into Lynch's work, definitely don't start with this one (unless of course you wanna see the most extreme example of his type of surrealism). Maybe start with something like Twin Peaks or Blue Velvet.

While I don't think it's his best film (it's hard to top Mulholland Drive), it is definitely one of his most ambitious. It's a journey, and experience, and I love it.
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Incomprehensible masterpiece
dinaabatematteo4 May 2019
What I found to be a fascinatingly incomprehensible nightmare-on-video the first time I saw it, what I found to be an extremely nonsensical film overall, I now feel is one of the most important and greatest artistic works of the decade, and nowhere near as flawed and incomprehensible as I initially thought. I'm not going to attempt an analysis of the film, greater minds have done that already.
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Inland Empire explained! (MAJOR spoilers)
mystflexagon31 January 2007
Let me say, that I, Dan "The Movie Man" Wolfson have done it again. I have like in all of the previous Lynch films, managed to unearth the rich textural subtleties and secrets that lie within the film's tombs of confusion.

It all lies in the name Axxon N. If you remember correctly, Axxon N. is the longest running radio program in all of Bulgaria (or somewhere strange and European) that is mentioned at the beginning of the film. Think about this. This is the first feature length movie that Lynch has shot on DV. I'm going to assume there will be more. Now, if that next one was Movie B this would clearly be Movie A. Add that A to Axxon N. Rearrange the letters.


The actress, played by Laura Dern in her best performance since Jurassic Park is obviously not on Xanax. She seems depressed. Confused. Wandering from one murky hallway to the next. As I watched the brilliant images flash before me one by one. I realized this Phantom character represented the darkness or depression in Laura Dern's life. When she shoots him at the end with the gun she pulls out of nowhere (the gun of Xanax, I should say. Xanax was developed by a Polish Doctor Of Medicine named Dr. Tryzcwk Gunn) he is vanquished and everyone is happy again. Light and life return to the picture. Everyone hugs each other! A family is reunited (I don't know what they were all about though). There's lots of bright lights and EVERYONE DANCES! The woman that Laura Dern kisses represents the pharmaceutical industry, which America has turned it's back on.

It's no secret that Lynch is part of the crazy meditation cult. The Scientologists are their arch Nemesis's. I know L. Ron Hubbard would love for nothing more than to see the Maharishi Yogi lose his followers. Scientologists are against medication for depression, so obviously since these guys are like the Ying to each other's Yang -- the Yogi is totally for medication. I think it's great that they're out there fighting -- almost like the two Zoroastruthian Gods. Clearly, we know the battle lines that Lynch has drawn.

If you are depressed like Nikki and keep thinking you're being stabbed in the stomach, get on Xanax. Take it from me, Dan "The Movie Man" Wolfson.

(P.S. The girls who play the hookers are amazing actresses!)
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Hard to get, but when you get it... oh boy!
jmerlino31 August 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Inland Empire is one of the best films I've ever seen. It is truly a masterpiece and if Lynch never makes another film, I think over time, the world will agree with me.

The narrative is fractured and disjointed. Characters morph into other characters and have parallel roles in other parts of the story. However, it is NOT incoherent, and does contain a fairly straightforward narrative, once you figure it out.

(DISCLAIMER: I did not come up with this interpretation myself. I had some ideas about what I thought was going on when I discovered this interpretation. It jibed with what I was thinking, and makes the most sense to me. I won't attempt to synopsize this narrative. It would take pages and pages. Basically it's this: Laura Dern's character, Sue, has a "spirit twin" who is trapped in some kind of purgatory. She's able to watch Laura Dern through a TV.

There's a lot of messing around with Dern's identity, as she's evidently repressing something. Through a series of scenes of expositional dialogue and some wandering around in a confused state, she meets an "entity" of sorts, appearing as a man. She shoots him, and sees a grotesque version of herself, which is her inner evil, which then evaporates.

Having purged her own evil, she is reunited with her spirit twin, and they both fade away into nothingness. Perhaps to heaven, perhaps to be reincarnated, or maybe something else. We don't know. What we do know is that the reunion has been her goal throughout the entire film even if she, and we, were unaware of it.

Along the way, there is a lot of "Lynchiness". Some broad satire - much of it aimed at the movie business - a good deal of grotesquery, dialog that doesn't appear to make any sense (although it does), time slips, and a whole lot of free-floating dread.

Laura Dern's acting is superb. Juggling two very different personalities, and the transitions between them, and the resulting confusion is a real feat, and she pulls it off seamlessly.

Some people have called this a companion piece to Mulholland Drive. The two movies do share some common ideas, but where Mulholland Drive is fairly straightforward once you understand that the first part is a dream, Inland Empire seems to be operating on multiple levels simultaneously, all of which are equally "real", and seems to have a much more spiritually-directed message. The confusion between what's real and what's not seems less and less important as the movie goes on.

It's a film that rewards multiple viewings and even if your interpretation differs from mine, you'll probably find something in it that will get you thinking about some big ideas.
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coldownie7 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Perhaps not?

I'd say Lynch goes further than an exploration of the subconscious. I think he explores insanity - where the trauma of an event is so intense that it distorts memory, time and meaning within the mind.

In Lost Highway - a murder causes the onset of the delusional fantasy world. In Mulholland - its the loss of a great love due to rejection (betrayal by another). In Inland Empire - its the loss of a great love due to infidelity (a betrayal of/by the self).

The first half of the film is the delusional fantasy of Nikki's traumatised mind. It should be interpreted in terms of feeling and symbolism.

Her feelings for Billy are initially controlled - she is strong and resistant. Her feelings develop into trust and respect which creates a comfort to then open up the doors of the subconscious - the feelings give way to a titillation, temptation, desire, passion, guilt (not sure of the order of the last 2 actually - perhaps guilt before passion). Billy also seems to represent love. He seems to be combination of both the feelings of love for her husband and feelings of temptation.

The result of the infidelity is the end of her marriage/family.

This is the unfinished story/film that has been told many times through the ages.

The guns, screwdriver etc could be taken literally although i think they are more symbols of the pain / loss. I don't think the trauma is from a murder I think its from the guilt.

The whore element represents the guilt she feels toward herself and there is a desire to kill that element within herself. (The stabbing).

I also take the whore element as having actually occurred with the laughter and indignation of the other working girls towards her aging looks exacerbating the pain and leading to the onset of the delusional fantasy where the mind shuts off completely to try and figure itself out.

Lynch films reconstruct themselves in your mind upon reflection. Like the theme's through the film about memory and time you gradually remember scenes you've forgotten and parts of scenes you didn't take notice of the first time around.

It also seems that she was abused as a child by her father which was the birth of her feeling of impurity that emerges to the surface in later life and causes the disaster. Their are strong ties between the room of her abuse and home of the whores.

The rabbit scene represents the dark depth of the mind / subconscious. Its the happy family with the secret of abuse.

Her mind eventually returns to that "room" and she deals with the pain that originated there. Once this is reached the mind experiences the release and final understanding. Bliss follows.

For the vast majority of the film I thought it was her husband that betrayed her. (and I'm not sure if this is deliberate by Lynch or accidental) but by the end I think you have to change your mind.

Anyways, thats my take on it.
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One of the best of David Lynch's films.
cesaroi6 December 2016
Most people consider "Mulholland Dr.", David Lynch's Masterpiece. I can see why they would say that, but I think this film is hugely underrated, and most people dislike it, probably because of the way this was shot, the run time or maybe even the context. But for me David Lynch's content just gets better and better with each movie you see, and this is no exception, this could be Lynch's Masterpiece, not just because of the really surrealist quality to this film, because of the message, the way this was put together, and how it came to be. I recommend first experiencing this film, and then analyzing it if you are into deconstructing stuff, so you can get the message or anything. But, if you're just in it because it just "mindfucks" you, then you still won't be disappointed. If you didn't like the movie because of the aesthetic or anything, I urge you to give it a second chance. And if you're a David Lynch fan, let's just hope that he makes a new film soon.
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A VERY Important Film
cooperjoeseph517 March 2014
The greatest stab at surrealist film since the Cremaster Cycle. For Lynch, just after filming Mulholland Drive, to go all out and make three hours worth of non-interconnected, abstract, surrealist, subjective vignettes is bold. The experience of this film, as long as you do not try to make sense of it is absolutely mesmerizing. The best recent exhibition of a dream sequence that I have ever seen. It is unlike anything else released to the main stream. Its as if Lynch took all of his little abstract scenes from his most famous movies and compiled it into one. It cannot be made sense of, it is purely small fragments of someones recalled consciousness. And oh so beautiful. It is just pure expression and no director but Lynch would dare make it today. If you want to see how far the medium of film can be pushed, watch this goddamn film. It's so beautiful and yet at times so terrifying and thrilling. This film changed what I thought a film should be. What, oh what a film.
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What Actresses, Prostitutes, Women Endure.
eddiez6123 March 2010
I just stopped the DivX player at exactly the mid point, there's still 90 minutes left. I'm giving it 6 stars as a movie experience, but it rates 10 as a personal experience. Why the difference? Well, it's simply not my experience, it's David Lynch's. It so completely springs from, reveals, respects David's personal unique psyche, with no concessions to anyone else's concerns. I respect that. However, its jarring, shocking rhythms have me very guarded and closed down. At this point I can't see myself trusting the director, his film, or myself enough to lower my defenses and fully experience its intense moments. Apparently David is trusting his cinematic mastery enough to have its sublime horror freely flow into me, but it doesn't quite seem to recognize the extent of it's intimidating, off putting method. It's not so much inviting or coaxing me in as it is taunting and heckling me... ...

...OK, after pondering what I wrote in the above paragraph, I've just re-watched the first 90 minutes plus the next 51 because I had what I'm sure is a revelation. I can't reveal the details of what I've discovered, but I will say that the first 3 scenes - the two in Poland, and then the one at Nikki Grace's home, especially - are absolutely crucial for grasping what occurs thereafter. There's a trick, a device at work there that sets the viewers awareness at just the proper focus. If you miss it, and it's very easy to miss it - at least it was for me - you'll be floundering in a macabre vortex. Having now caught that early subtle clue I have gotten "on track." Before my moment of clarity, this film was an incessant assault of jumbled neurotic drama. But now it's a gently unfolding, elegantly catered cerebral banquet. No, I'm kidding about that. It's still a threatening nightmarish voyage, but now I'm keeping up, grasping and intuiting the cryptic changes and obsessive motion and not suffocating under dense layers of hysteria. IE without a doubt, if you manage to "get on board", is the most logical, rational, entirely explicit film David has yet crafted. It's as though I've gained passage onto a meticulously engineered psycho-sexual roller-coaster. And so far, it's been an absolutely harrowing ride; creeping up, rocketing down and swooping through the labyrinthine caverns, galleries and cupboards of Lynch's formidably Gothic psyche. David Lynch is now proving himself to be a clinically deliberate conjurer of the most elusive but formidable terrors. Franz Kafka, Francis Bacon and Russ Meyer have transmogrified into a hideously effective maestro. Also, a nice slab of Hitchcock's in there, too.

The following paragraph I wrote before my "revelation", when I had yet only seen half the film, and have decided to not delete it because it still holds water for the points it makes...

It's not that I can't handle Lynch's brand of grotesque delirium, "Eraserhead" is one of the most intense, complete cinematic experiences of my life. I think in all his following features he's gotten more mature, obscure, and slicker, but I simply don't trust these qualities as much as I do the more naive, direct, raw ones of his first feature. "Blue Velvet" was more accessible, theatrical, and therefore much more popular, but suffers in comparison from an excess of style. It's lurid imagery, freakish characters and graphic dialog are unique to David's work, and indelible aspects of American cinema, but I think the cumulative effect of "Blue Velvet's" carnivalesque eccentricities ultimately undercuts its guiding tone of wondrous horror. "Eraserhead's" frightful oddities, quirky players, and oppressive discomfort combine to accurately express a more vague, terrible reality. "Blue Velvet's" method of a series of choreographed sinister tableaux pays homage to the great tradition of Film Noire, and it's very fun, but this concession to traditional cinematic conventions pushes it into the realm of parody. Parody can be powerful. The sitcom parody "Rabbits" that appear "on TV" here is so wonderfully, horrendously disturbing on its own, but any of its parodic impact is diluted into the rest of this film's frantic currents...

...Again, having written the above paragraph before having "adjusted my awareness" I'd like to stress that so far, 141 minutes into it, "Inland Empire" absolutely towers above all of Lynch's previous efforts. The unity and integrity of its elements, the fresh "right now" harshness of digital video, the outrageously masterful exploitation of Laura Dern's persona - largely the creation of Lynch himself - all in the service of a devastatingly profound experience. David Lynch has produced his slickest, obscurest, most mature film, but this time it's all working magically. Even if the next 38 minutes take an unforeseen disastrous turn, the film still will be a monumental cinematic achievement, a remarkable accomplishment. Chief among its many virtues is that it has artfully exposed a genuinely unrecognized, repressed, but essential truth of American society. I won't say what this truth is because it's the ultimate spoiler, the best part of experiencing this graphic exorcism. The paradoxical clarity of this film deserves doctoral theses, its mastery of form a MacArthur Grant, and its penetrating and revolutionary insight into the American psyche a Nobel Prize of some kind (pause for thunderous applause). A very important realization is now that I see the film as much more linear and cinematic, those horrendous "Rabbits" are no longer a queer irrational addendum, but rather an essential element whose deviously absurd presence serves a "sacred" purpose. I hope to soon attend further sermons.

Finally, once keyed into its wavelength, it is in fact that wondrously horrible experience that all his other films have reached for. A seductively familiar yet menacingly alien parallel world. Soul Shattering. Utterly unique. Notice that I have now awarded it a full 10 stars. This misunderstood film will terrorize the psyches of Lynch fans for a long time. Now, back to the final 38 minutes of Axxon.N...
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boy was I wrong about this before
smart_e21 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Yeah, this is quite good.

I'm completely re-editing this review now because I did something different this time around.

3 or 4 times, I tried watching this on the recliner, in the living room, at night, on the large flatpanel, and feel asleep every time.

This time around, I used my computer, a high quality office chair, a Bluray disk, and a high quality 1080p computer monitor, first thing after breakfast and coffee. It's like night and day -- actually, it IS night and day, isn't it! This is ART. Precise, almost psychic, in a way. The HD helps in the dark scenes, introduces a completely different intentional "distortion", so to speak.

This is more like surfing the web for information, you have to pay attention. People may not like these type of movies -- it's not like Wall-E or Saturday Night Live where you can just recline back and "be" entertained.

This is about the precision of the message, a love of the art, this is about a clarification of ideas that permeate our collective conscious and perhaps subconscious minds. It's about Hollywood, dreams, and fears.

You have to pay attention, and do it with an open mind. If you like Lynch at all, this is brilliant. If you don't, maybe don't bother. But for anyone that feels like they like Lynch but hate this one, try what I did. I've been there, done that. I couldn't believe this could be the same director, but now, watching it during the day on the computer, I see it is. It's an intellectual thing, not an amusement park ride.

Grab a bluray disk if you can find one, watch in on your computer (if your computer supports Bluray), in a comfortable office chair, on a decent 1080p computer monitor. Pay attention.

If you're a Lynch fan, definitely give it another chance. In the morning, seated upright in your work space, along with your coffee or tea. The 2007 movie "Lynch" might also be helpful to understand.

This is really an awesome film. It's just not "entertainment" in the dumbed-down, baked-out, brainless mindless fashion one might be used to.

Definitely a 9 to a 9.5. No recliners allowed. And remember -- coffee. Lots of coffee.

Don't miss it -- seriously, if you're a Lynch fan, give it another chance the way I described, and you might see it in a different light. I tried at least 4 or more times the standard living room way and never made it through.

Another thing that might help is to imagine that it's dreamy in a sense like a flow of thought, so the "plot" is taking place in a virtual place, like a video game or brain device or something. It's virtualized, these are images and concepts and things like that, not concrete happenings. It's not an action flick or military strategy. My take on it is that nothing in the film ever actually happened, like fiction within fiction or something.

Give it another chance, if you like Lynch's stuff, you'll probably be glad you did. I'm glad I gave it another chance.
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Warning: may cause the viewer's mind to warp
jphyman3 July 2007
Watching a Lynch movie is not an activity one takes lightly. One must prepare for this event. This is not a movie you take your significant other to for a relaxing escape or adventure. This is not a movie that you can do research on to find out what it is about -- the tagline reads simply "A Woman In Trouble", and that is about all you can gleam from any attempt at a review of the plot. Indeed, after a screening of the movie at some venue, the director was available for questions. One viewer took the opportunity to try and find out what was just witnessed by asking Lynch directly to which the response was that it was about "A Woman In Trouble". So, how does one prepare? One approaches the movie with an open mind and lets the movie invade one's own Inland Empire -- how you react is up to you, but the point is that you do react, you ask yourself questions, and you find the movie playing in your head days after the actual physical act of watching the movie is over.

The movie itself provides one hint as to how to reflect: put on the watch, light the cigarette, fold the silk, burn a hole, then look through all the way until you find yourself immersed in the images on the other side. This provides the connection between you, the movie watcher, and the movie. But what happens when the movie you are watching is watching other movies and things start to fold in on themselves? You go along for the ride and see where you end up.

Yes, it is most easily recognizable as a film by Lynch. Certain scenes take you back to most all of his previous works, not in plot, but in atmosphere. Lynch's characteristic elements are present: women in trouble, moody music, the red curtains, and actions taken to the extreme.

At this point, how I view the film is as follows. Lynch is a master at challenging the viewer -- challenging the viewer to watch a movie in a different way and challenging the viewer to continue to think about the imagery after the fact and its effect. Lynch chose to shoot the movie digitally which magnifies certain aspects that are not present otherwise. He chose a way of making the movie that was less structured than any other form of movie making. I think to some degree, Lynch's form of meditation is invading his Inland Empire.

Lynch is very guarded with explanations about any of his films. I think he would say that the more you talk about what was meant, the less power the movie has for the viewer. With Lynch's way, you can view the movie in a different way each time.

So, I think with respect to direction, the movie is exceptional. With respect to acting, I think Laura Dern provides an exceptional performance as much of the movie is concerned with her perceptions. Jeremy Irons, Harry Dean Stanton, and Justin Theroux all provide well-done supporting roles.
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Lynch is insane, INLAND EMPIRE is insane, and *I* am insane. And loving it.
teh_mode27 March 2007
If you thought Lost Highway (1997) was stretching the boundaries of narrative cohesion, David Lynch's INLAND EMPIRE makes it look like an episode of Diagnosis Murder. Lynch has now completely surpassed the boundaries of producer-influenced cinema, to present a film completely under his own terms. And whilst Lynch has never been one to make particularly audience friendly films (his debut was Eraserhead, after all), watching all three hours of this terrifying mind-maze of a film will do nothing to entice anyone other than die hard Lynchians. And speaking as a die hard Lynchian myself, frankly, who cares? Because INLAND EMPIRE, in as insane a way as possible, is one mind-maze you will not want to miss.

The tagline of the movie is "A woman in trouble", and the plot of the film, as much as it can be explained, centres on Nikki Grace (Laura Dern in a fantastically demented performance), a Hollywood actress who has seen better days. She gets role in a remake of an unfinished Polish movie called 47, which was abandoned after both leads mysteriously met a grizzly end. She is soon visited by a strange neighbour (played by Grace Zabriskie), who tells her that the film is not a melodrama, but a murder mystery.

Whilst INLAND EMPIRE is three hours long, it appears to exist in some sort of breach of the space-time continuum. At one stage, Nikki is on set, when she and her co-stars, spot a "darkness" in the set. Curiosity desperately getting the better of her, she wanders over to it, and vanishes into it. For the next 2 ½ hours, the narrative jumps between scenes of a girl crying in a hotel room, whilst watching an existential sitcom about rabbits (which was actually taken from David Lynch's website), and Laura Dern herself who appears to have become several different characters. At one point, she may be a hooker on Hollywood boulevard, and in other scenes she appears to be the victim of an abusive husband. She even manages to wind up in the original Polish movie, which is where the film is at its most enigmatic.

INLAND EMPIRE is like a being trapped in David Lynch's nightmares for an evening, with everything making perfect sense to the nocturnal mind. This is not to say that there isn't meaning to it, but the film's meaning, and deciphering it, is completely subjective to most people. Everybody sees their own film; whether that means being so weirded out after the opening ten minutes or being so perplexed, as to be compelled to carry on with the journey, it would be completely spurious to suggest that INLAND EMPIRE was not effective. Lynch films don't have to be about anything other than the moment, and INLAND EMPRIE is a movie of moments. They may add up to something, it is your choice whether you choose to look for meaning, or simply embrace the surrealism of it all. It may never make sense to you. But then, nightmares don't make sense. They jump from place to place, and the people in them say things that don't necessarily apply to conscious thinking. See it once to take it all at eye view's length. Then see it again to try and comprehend the mind-maze Lynch has constructed. Unlike his masterpiece Mulholland Drive, there are no clues this time. And being in that cinema, you feel nothing but the vibrating terror of INLAND EMPIRE's industrial soundtrack. Whether it arrests you into a state of aesthetic wonder, however, is entirely upto how far you dare venture into Lynch's mind.
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The art of David Lynch
jpschapira18 March 2007
I've just done a one-hour trip to watch this…Wow! And I mean wow…What a phenomenal piece of cinema this is and I wonder: can you be so amazed by a movie without knowing what it is about? "Sit back, relax; you're on a David Lynch film", Laura Dern said on an interview. Her co-star Justin Theroux also explained that it had become a game for them to figure out what the movie was about while shooting: "I think that even David can't tell you", he added.

Cinema, making cinema, above all things, is an art; and David Lynch is one of cinema's greater artists. Ironic however, is that, if you watch his last film and you don't know who he is, you'll probably think it is the work of an amateur. "Inland Empire" is the work of a professional and, as Lynch himself puts it, "a story about a woman in trouble". That's all you need to know about the plot; then you have to watch carefully.

I met a man named Scott at the screening and he told me that the viewer only appreciates David Lynch's movies if they are seen in a movie theater. True, because you're experiencing the director's mind during three hours of pure cinematographic magic. And that's a mind that includes a large number of characters in the most twisted of stories, with the richest handling of digital camera you'll see in a long time.

Some audiences that watched the picture complained because they said the digital camera image didn't look good on the big screen. False, it looks beautiful. With the cheap camera in his hand, Lynch takes all the risks generating a lot of movement and shooting directly into the actor's faces. He goes from light to dark, he appears, disappears and reappears, he crafts the music and the sound design so well that it becomes another main character (you really have to watch that), turning an actual scene into some kind of music video; he goes through all the moods of cinema which are, in some ways, the moods of life.

His script, written whenever a new idea came to him in a period of two and half years, is more than ever a work of patience. During the whole film, after one character talks, the other stares intensely and waits at least five or ten seconds to answer; there are lots of insightful looks, there's a lot of contemplative silence that becomes dreamlike and consequently scary. The script has a lot of fear that can make you jump off your seat and it also has a slight subtle humor that works as a refreshing breeze of air when apparently no one can breathe. Lynch's total freedom becomes clear with his own editing, which we realize he controlled a lot, inserting his vision to the viewer in an even stronger way.

However, there's another driving force inside "Inland Empire"; and that's Laura Dern's fantastic performance. To say fantastic is to find one appropriate word that summarizes her tour-de-force portrayal. She's on screen in every scene, the camera is on her face all of the time and she doesn't look at it; not even once in three hours. Of course she's not supposed to look at the camera, but her work is so focused that she doesn't even turn her eyes at times; she seems to be somewhere else than in Lynch's set, somewhere beyond. She takes her character beyond every possible level and she does it almost entirely on her own, with few answers from the rest of the individuals. Maybe another word to describe her act is unforgettable.

And so is "Inland Empire", in the good or the bad way for anyone: an unforgettable experience and, as Scott said to me; a movie that will be playing itself in your head after five days…Or even more. One more thing: don't even bother on trying to figure out the 'mystery' or the meaning of the plot and you'll be alright.
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David Lynch's "Finnegan's Wake"
mrs-dalloway-126 November 2008
What on earth can be said about David Lynch's possibly most disorienting and mind-bending film? First of all, I must warn you not to approach this film if: a. You have never seen a David Lynch film before; b. You are looking for some lifeless romantic flick with Meg Ryan; c. You want to see a movie with a tangible and linear plot. Having said that, I can now say with confidence that this is David Lynch's second-greatest film (I find it very unlikely that he will make something that tops Mullholand Dr.) Full of red herrings, red lampshades and a bizarre Waiting-for-Godot-like sitcom featuring talking rabbits (voiced by the beautiful Naomi Watts, Laura Elena Harring and Scott Coffey) it is not an easy movie to digest. I do not suggest watching it in sections. Make time during the week, or maybe reserve a Friday night, and watch it in a dark room with order-in Chinese food. As I said in the title, this movie can best be described as David Lynch's "Finnegan's Wake". What I mean by that is that the movie is full of references to other films (both by Lynch and others) that, outside of context, seem very perplexing indeed. INLAND EMPIRE is essentially a labyrinth of (highly disturbing) images, ideas and dialog, which, when combined, make for a wild and puzzling experience. But , despite the disorienting plot and creepy atmosphere, INLAND EMPIRE is a profound film that pushes the boundaries on conventional cinema, and explores the idea of the creation of dreams (in the much larger, philosophical sense). David Lynch spoke in an interview of a quote from the Hindu text the Upanishads: "We are like the spider. We weave our life and then move along in it. We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives in the dream." It is this theory, the idea that we create our own destinies and live it out, like actors in our own play, that drives the film, and what, at its core, it explores.

David Lynch has created a thing of beauty. It is truly a work of art.
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Inland Empire
marmar-6978014 September 2020
Inland Empire is another Lynch masterpiece in a lot sorts of a way,it is hard to decide which part is the best ,Laura Dern performance was for me Oscar worthy,the entire film has that gorgeous surreal feel in it ,some scenes looked beautiful and that dreamy feel in them was done in a very brilliant way.Sure i didnt understand this film in full capicity,but that is film charm ,you have to watch it multiple times to coprehand it and to understand it fully,ending of a movie was the most weirdest part ,but i still liked it a lot.Inland Empire may actually be one of my favourites from Lynch even if i will have wo watch it again to understand it fully
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An audiovisual tour-de-force. A most mystical work of art...
emperor_panos11 March 2007
David Lynch has so far proved that he can direct various genres ranging from TV. series to incoherent experimental art-cinema. He seems to have concluded that the latter suits him best, and so do we. If you have not watched any auteur Lynch films before, I would not recommend INLAND EMPIRE before you become better acquainted with his other work. For those who wish to give it a try, the hint is, do not trouble yourself if you don't understand anything. INLAND EMPIRE is one of Lynch's best films. Shot throughout with an amateur digital camera, he once more captures all the mystery and perversion that human beings communicate through his close-ups, lighting and music. The film's peak is its capability to force the audience to think and try to make meaning out of where there is none. The mystification of the most trivial objects and the artistic mise-en-scene compose images of a most inspiring piece of art and the extreme surreal he blends more than ever in INLAND EMPIRE all work to produce a chaotic whole with a peculiar, awkwardly mysterious beauty. The performances in INLAND EMPIRE, especially Laura Dern's are simply disarming. Grace Zabriskie's small part will drive anyone mad (she is the classic Lynchean mysterious figure who visits, talks and vanishes) through its unrealistic plausibility and its mystifying weirdness. In a nutshell, INLAND EMPIRE is yet another Lynchean masterpiece that certainly needs more than one viewing and that is, not for one to understand it, but to simply appreciate its value and unveil all its beauty and mystique. Lynch is certainly one of the most talented and artful contemporary directors and INLAND EMPIRE is one of his greatest works...
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Lynch at his most Lynchian
truemythmedia24 February 2020
"I want to say right now that I think "Inland Empire", for better or worse, is David Lynch at his most unrestrained. I unabashedly loved certain parts of this film, but there were other times when I wasn't sure what the hell was going on, that is, until after the credits rolled, and I took my dog for a walk and pondered what I'd just seen for the better part of an hour. By the time I returned from my walk, I felt as if many things that I did not at first grasp had started to make sense. That's the kind of work this film takes; it's not easy to watch, and even when you do get through the credits, the meaning takes a bit of unspooling.

Lynch's films have always been dense (I can't tell you how long I've spent thinking about "Eraserhead"), but this film is Lynch at his densest. That being said, I also think that huge fans of Lynch's more experimental work will find this film to be one of the meatier offerings Lynch has given us. There's a lot to unpack here, as it is a three-hour film, and I honestly think anyone that watches this would have a much easier time going through the film for a second time, when they've had the chance to properly place and consider the implications of each storyline. As a whole the film is incredibly well done, and I hate to think this is the last film we've received from the famed director (he recently made "Twin Peaks: The Return", but that doesn't count as a film).

Please come back, Lynch. We love you.

There are so many scenes that are up for interpretation that half the time, you didn't know if what was happening was a dream, reality, or part of the film that was being produced. Like many of Lynch's movies, just knowing the details of a scene doesn't compare with experiencing it: listening to the uncomfortable sound design; seeing the weird and sometimes chintzy special effects that still, somehow, manage to come off as creepy; or watching the acting with lengthy pauses and unnatural facial expressions. All of Lynch's films are an experience; and this one in particular is a heck of a wild ride.
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Inland Empire
quinimdb18 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Let me preface this by saying that not only am I very familiar with Lynch's work, but I've loved every movie of his that I've seen and the only ones I haven't seen are "Wild at Heart" and "The Straight Story". I even watched the entirety of "Twin Peaks" and loved it. "Inland Empire" is just too much.

"Inland Empire" starts out seemingly on the same track as "Mulholland Drive". That is to say, an actress hoping for a big break who gets caught in an endless downward spiral of crime and guilt, and for most of the movie, even after it gets absolutely nuts, this seems to be what the movie is going for (emphasis on "SEEMS", because there is no way of really knowing with this one). The thing is, this movie has no real plot, no consistent characters, no space, no time, and as far as I'm concerned, nothing in it is reality, but it's never truly clear. And it's three hours long.

What the movie descends into is an absolute nightmare. I can say with certainty this is the weirdest film I have seen, and it's probably the scariest one too. Usually the latter would be high praise, but with this one... I don't know. This movie really, genuinely unsettled me, and it probably has done the best job of any film to recreate what it actually feels like to be in a nightmare. Everything about this film just feels wrong. The way it is shot, with these poor quality digital camcorders, usually uncomfortably close to people's faces with an ultra wide angle lens, distorting their faces. There are full scenes in a foreign language without subtitles. The mic quality isn't that great, there'should no studio lighting (or lighting of any kind for that matter. I don't know if this one was intentional, and frankly it made me laugh, but it has horribly bad sound effects for people being hit, and that is probably just a flaw, but honestly I couldn't tell. It just generally doesn't look or feel like a movie... even for Lynch it's absurd.

Here's the thing: I can appreciate the movie for how it made me feel, considering no movie has ever made me feel that way, but at the same time it was really just not enjoyable. Usually I can love movies that make me feel really sad, or afraid, even though those are negative emotions, because I can appreciate the filmmaking aspect that was required to make me feel that way. No one would say "Schindler's List" made them feel good, but many of the people who watch that film love it. So when I say it wasn't "enjoyable", I also mean that it was just too bizarre and unorthodox to truly be able to analyze the specific filmmaking aspects, and there were no characters or symbolic imagery to analyze either. I roughly understood the themes and felt the mood of the film, but that was about it. This is what makes it different than other Lynch films: all the rest of his films take place in psychological landscapes, but are grounded in reality, and it's possible to find this in "Mulholland Drive", "Eraserhead", and even "Lost Highway" in my opinion.

I do not exaggerate when I say that I did not want to watch this film during it's last hour, not because I thought it was necessarily bad, but I just really didn't like the way it made me feel, and there was even a moment near the end of the film where I stopped watching for a few minutes because the film made me feel so strange and anxious.

The film has the unique feeling that literally anything could happen at any moment. The only thing truly consistent about the film is its mood, which can only be described as a nightmarish fever dream.

In short, I have mixed feelings about this strange amalgamation.

Edit: It's been a day and I haven't stopped thinking about it since I finished watching it. I still don't really know what I think about it, but no movie has had this effect on me before, so I bumped the score up to a 7/10.

Edit: Been three days. In retrospect, I think this was kind of great in its own way.
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Surrealism at its finest.
kuszeksandro14 October 2014
Dali loved confusion and believed it was necessary to surrealist art. David Lynch has truly succeeded in communicating that in this film.

The story revolves around an actress who has an affair with her co-star and begins to lose touch with reality. Well, that's the plot on a surface level. Lynch has created a movie that has a plot that you can pick up on while watching the film, but is completely impossible to fully explain afterward. He bombards the viewer with an unsettling and claustrophobic atmosphere and reoccurring images, words, and sounds that are only very loosely connected and mean nothing besides what you give them in your own mind. The viewer makes connections and draws inferences and conclusions subconsciously while his/her very confused conscious mind tries to make sense of the film. This makes each viewing of Inland Empire completely subjective.

This movie is only what you take from it. A true surrealist masterpiece!
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