Finally. I got my DVD of David Lynch's INLAND EMPIRE on Saturday. On Sunday night, at 10.15pm, I sat down to watch it. I was not sure this was wise, to start a film so late in the evening is unusual for me; to start a three-hour movie so late could almost be considered foolhardy. Double that when you know that the UK DVD has no chapter stops, so making it difficult (on my shitty "oh sorry, I don't remember where I was" DVD player) to resume at a later date. But start I did, and end I did -- or you wouldn't be reading this.
Shot on digital video, INLAND EMPIRE tells the tale of "a woman in trouble". Laura Dern is an actress who is about to star in a remake of an unfinished Polish film. She soon learns it was unfinished because the stars were killed. Her co-star (in both senses) is Justin Theroux. The actors begin having an affair, maybe. The mind of Dern's character and the mind of Dern's character's character being to merge. We are no longer sure which is which.
Meantime, there is some Polish stuff. Old Polish men. A Polish woman sitting watching a TV sitcom about some talking rabbits (seen above). A hypnotist. There's also a woman with a screwdriver stuck in her side, and some prostitutes.
There are also no easy answers.
In so many ways, this film is similar to Mulholland Dr., but it's also far darker; there's a greater sense of evil somehow. I had been led to believe it was "a Lynch too far" for most non-enthusiasts of Lynch work. It's tough for me to be objective there, but I was gripped from start to finish.
I loved the photography. Lynch has really made the best of his outdated Sony PD-150. He has opted, many times, to use extreme close-ups of people's faces, often with a wide-angle lens. This was a smart move, in my opinion, for digital video is at its best like this. Its shortcomings seem too evident in busy distant or establishing shots of the like seen so much in Open Water, also shot on a PD-150.
I'm going to be watching this again very soon in a bid to unravel the complex narrative, but it had me gripped from beginning to end. Dern was great, really good, in the leads (and it really is "leads": she plays at least three characters, I think!), and all the supporting cast are also strong. Cameos include William H Macy, Diane Ladd, and Pirate Master host Cameron Daddo -- I shit you not!
If you like Lynch, you've probably already seen this. If you don't like him, you probably never will watch it. For this one, though, I'm going to wheel out the old scoring system!