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Posted October 1, 2010
Uneven, but a must for Lynch fans
As a longtime David Lynch fan, I had been wanting him to make a film that was more unhinged than his previous works, more obtuse, and generally darker. Well, I finally got my wish and boy, did I get it. I was initially excited to see a favorite director jump into an exciting new technological realm "the world of digital video" and working with out a safety net "or a script for that matter" so late in his career. Frankly though, INLAND EMPIRE is a mess. Though it isn't without some amazing scenes and moments, there are still plenty of problems with this film. No matter what Lynch will say, the PD-150 is a passable low grade video camera at best. The image is murky and just not pleasant to look at. Plus, Lynch leaves the auto-focus/auto-iris features on his camera. He has explained that he liked having the camera do all the work so he can stay trapped within the world of the characters and the scene. The downside is it takes the viewer out of the mood and ambience by constantly reminding us of the cheapness of the technology. And it seems for every surreal, wonderful scene there is another that feels like a failed film school project. Laura Dern is nothing short of stunning as Nikki, the emotionally damaged woman we see recreated into a variety of different personas throughout the film. But other actors seemed impossibly wooden, especially the strange troupe of hookers/suicide girl types that pop up far too often in the film. Lynch revisits virtually most every major theme and motif from his canon. One can't help but feel like the director is trying to make a grand, definitive statement with INLAND EMPIRE. But at times it feels more like shallow retread of his previous work. For example, the "climax" of the film has a emotional, faux Julee Cruise song and plenty of Laura Dern bathed in bright lights and smiling a 'la the severely under-rated Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. However unlike Twin Peaks, the characters are underdeveloped, rendering the ending fairly meaningless. It feels no different than a Hollywood film cueing us with familiar sounding scores to elicit an emotional reaction. The DVD extras are extremely generous, making this a worthwhile purchase either way. There is over an hour of deleted scenes "that are as equally as engaging and frustrating as the film itself", stories and anecdotes about the project from Lynch, a short film, trailers and hilarious, creepy segment where Lynch teaches you how to cook Quinoa. It has to be seen to believed. Plus, there's a 30 minute preview of an upcoming documentary feature about the making of Inland Empire that might actually be more interesting than the final project itself. Overall, if you're a fan of David Lynch or experimental cinema this is a must own. Especially at the price. This may be the beginning of a new working method for Lynch that yields some interesting results and in that respect it's fascinating. But the film is probably just too frustrating and dense for the casual movie-goer.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.