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Inland Empire

Review Written by: William Grady
Film: A+
What the MPAA Rating should be: R (for language, violence and sexual content)

Directed by: David Lynch
Written by: David Lynch
Produced by: David Lynch and Mary Sweeney
Starring: Laura Dern, Jeremy Irons, Justin Theroux, Harry Dean Stanton, Diane Ladd
Studio: Studio Canal

Isn't it strange what love does?

There is simply no point looking for meaning and symbolism in a David Lynch movie - it's simply not there. The images presented are not meant to be interpreted, they're meant to provoke a reaction in the viewer, an emotion. With David the emotion is almost always horror and fear. I can think of no other director who is better at it, or, for that matter, any director who has even attempted it the way he does. Take, for instance, the first line of this review. It means nothing and makes relatively no sense in relation to the rest of the review. But even knowing this now a small part of your subconcious considers me "clever" for putting this line in which is also the line from the song used in the trailer (and movie). You have to force yourself and your brain to acknoledge you were wrong in the first place and I am actually a stupid putz.

Now feel free to expose me for who I am for that ridiculous line, but do NOT - not, I say! - do this in a Lynch movie. For those of you that have not been to his world before, here's some advice. In watching them, you are standing at the Event Horizon. Do not resist it. Simply allow yourself to be pulled in. Stop trying to make sense of it all - isn't that what ruined 2001: A Space Odessey for you? Stop trying to form your own reactions and emotions. Allow the film to take control, to choose which reactions and emotions will be pulled from you.

Be warned: this is a long movie. Think the longest movie you've ever seen and multiply it by 2. And then some. And then some. "Mainstream" audiences don't know how to react to a movie like this: most humans like to be in control of their own senses (so yes, this is, in a way, a movie for stoners). They resist the tug. And I have advice: Don't be afraid. You don't have to run away from the black hole. Because, eventually, after this very long time, it will spit you out again and to give thanks for your attention, it allows you to taste your world again and you can look upon those petrified three hours of your life and laugh. Because, after all, our world isn't anything like David's. Is it?

Now I haven't seen all of David Lynch (in fact, I really need to catch up) but this is probably his Lynchiest movie to date. Think the Lynchiest moment of the Lynchiest movie he made and extend it over a three hour and fifteen minute period. And then some. And then some. And then some. I mean, every half an hour we are treated to what should be funny but is strangely disturbing: a room of humanoid rabbits who say things that do not correlate to the last and next spoken sentences and a laugh track to boot.

The synopsis, if you can call it that - the movie only remains "plot driven" for the first forty-five minutes or so: After a number of false beginnings, we meet an actress, Nikki (Laura Dern, Lynch favorite finally given "her role") who appears to have just moved in and a bizarre lady (Grace Zabiriskie, another Lynch favorite) invites herself in to "greet the new neighbors." She says strange things that seem...relevant. In about an hour or two hours or so. In fact, everything in the second half of the movie you think you've seen this somewhere before in the first half. The film is oiled with a sense of Deja Vu.

Nikki just gets a role in a movie directed by "Kingsley" (Jeremy Irons), costarring "Devon," (Justin Theroux, another Lynch favorite) a notorious bad boy from the tabloids. Nikki is married to someone very important who suspects her of everything and is extremely threatening to his wife and Devon. Kingsley, during a script reading, tells his actors the movie had been attempted to have been made years before, but it was not finished because the lead stars were murdered in ways uncannily similar to Nikki and Devon's life. Nikki eventually gives in to Devon's advances and what follows is The Lynch. That is where the plot ends. Nikki meets all the past women of Devon's life in a closet, 8 1/2 style, who show her Laura Dern playing different women who are all in trouble in similar circumstances, but is a completely different women each time. Instead of allowing the sequences to flow together Lynch gives us a *jolt* each time until we're begging for mercy.

I've never seen a film that is able to so vividly recreate what it's like to dream. Wes Craven came close with some details from the first and last of the Nightmare on Elm Street Series...but not really close to this. This is, basically, after the plot leaves us behind, a very, very long nightmare. Inland Empire is one of the scariest films I have ever seen. And yea, Laura Dern is good. This is one of the greatest performances of the past few decades. She's incredible. And then some. And then some. There's nothing to be afraid of, children. Because, eventually, the movie ends and you can walk out of the theatre. I would never see this movie again, but I'm glad I've seen it once and it's highly recommended. We are allowed to taste our own world again and it's a relief and escape because our world isn't anything like David's.


Laura Dern in David Lynch's very stange Inland Empire.
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