Monday, December 3, 2012
(December 2006, U.S.)
Even the most hardcore of David Lynch fans may find themselves scratching their heads in confusion with his last film INLAND EMPIRE because it may, in fact, be the most incomprehensible film of the famed director's career since ERASERHEAD (1977). So what does that mean? Does it mean that Lynch has finally gone totally off the wall and alienated his fans OR does it mean that he's more of an artistic genius than ever before? It's just my opinion, of course, but I've always suspected the more difficult the content is to understand, them more it must be considered "art". It's my bullshit theory, anyway.
So, in the simplest of terms, the basic story of INLAND EMPIRE can best be described as the story of a Hollywood actress named Nicki Grace (played by Lynch film alumnus Laura Dern) whose real life and the role she's playing in her current film are so intertwined with and complementary of each other that somewhere along the line she no longer can interpret reality from fantasy. Reality and fantasy are mixed with the mysteries of adultry and murder with no clear indication of what's real and what's not (which is rather typical Lynch for those who know his work). In addition, the chronological order of the film is often confused or nonexistent (again, pure Lynch!).
(Forgive me, readers, if I'm unable to be a little clearer on the context of this film, but if you're ever seen it (or plan to see it), you may even give me just credit for doing the best I can do with what Lynch has given us here.)
There is, however, one element of the basic plot that I'd call your attention to which I find particularly facinating. On the first day of Nicki's shoot, she and her co-star Devon Berk (played by Justin Theroux) are informed by their director (played by Jeremy Irons) that the film they're making is, in fact, a remake of another film that went under a different name that was never finished because, as it turned out, the two stars of the original version were MURDERED. Take a moment to think about that premise and tell me it wouldn't make good material for a horror film, if done right. And, although I can't truly explain any of it, there are some rather creepy sequences involving a family sitting in their living room with huge rabbit heads. Take a look...
INLAND EMPIRE can, at the very least, stand out as a very personal art film for David Lynch that was done exactly the way he wanted to. It's the first film that he shot entirely in standard definition digital video, something he apparently always wanted to do. It also had a very limited theatrical release - only one art house theater in all of New York City screened it and I'm happy to say that I was one of its patrons. Bottom line, the best thing that can be said of INLAND EMPIRE is that it's typical David Lynch film fare and that fans of the director will find the film very seductive and very deep. All others who have never understood the director's artistic talent will likely consider the heady surrealism pointless and impenetrable. Too bad for them!
Favorite line or dialogue:
Kingsley Stewart: "ON HIGH AND BLUE TOMORROWS is in fact a remake."
Devon Berk: "It's a remake?"
Devon: "I wouldn't do a remake."
Kingsley: "No, no, no, no. I know. Of course...but you didn't know. The original was under a different name. It was started, but never finished. Now, Freddy's found out that our producers know the history of this film and they have taken it upon themselves not to pass that information along to us. Purposefully. Of course, not me. I assume not to the two of you. True?"
Nikki Grace: "No...absolutely. Nobody told me anything."
Devon: "No, me neither. I thought this was an original script."
Kingsley: "Yeah...well...anyway, the film was never finished."
Nikki: "I don't understand. Why wasn't it finished?"
Kingsley: "Well, after the characters have been filming for some time, they discovered something...something inside the story."
Devon: "Please. Kingsley."
Kingsley: "The two leads were murdered! It was based on a Polish-Gypsy folk-tale. The title in German was "Vier-Sieben: 47". And it was said to be cursed. So it turned out to be."