Thursday, May 22, 2014

Review of David Lynch’s 'Inland Empire': a Psychedelic Trip Report


Staying with the theme of the previous post, a review of Joon-ho Bong’s ‘Snowpiercer’, thought I’d share a review of David Lynch’s ‘Inland Empire’ that I posted on my previous site in 2007 after watching the movie for the first time - I ended up going back to the theater 2 more times within a week of making this post so that I could experience it again. This was one of my first extensive pieces and wanted to give it a home on this site as well. Suffice it to say, I highly recommend the movie.

I walked out of ‘Inland Empire’ seven hours ago and was too exhausted to tackle this recommendation. I ended up getting something to eat and after five hours of restless sleep I think I’m ready to at least pique your interest enough to consume David Lynch and go for a ride.

I want to get one thing out of the way before I go any further. The actors in this movie will blow you away. They catch you by surprise and amaze you with delight. If you are a casting director then this movie will teach you how to put the right people in the right place. If you are a director then you better line up now and make sure your script is strong enough and your vision brilliant, because if you win the lottery then you may hope to get the opportunity to work with at least one of these people. And if you think you are an actor then these roles, this director, this movie, this experience would have been an opportunity of a lifetime, if you could have pulled it off to perfection the way it was done by everyone involved. The flawless range of characters played by each individual actor will make you wish you had the ability to play just one of the personas from these schizophrenic personalities.

With ‘Inland Empire’, Lynch takes chaos, creates order within multiple timelines, through multiple characters, portraying different realities, each one more psychotic then the previous, just to tell us that life is worth the ride. He’s used psychedelic patterns everywhere and in every form. From the set and soundtrack, to the lighting and script, Lynch’s directing bonds every inch of the screen, playing with our emotions and sense of reality as if we were children trying to grasp the drama that comes with growing up.

Just when you think a perspective has been understood it changes. Infinite possibilities converge to a coherent rant that dissipates instantaneously, bringing to light pathways that lead into a panoramic view of realities yet before unseen.

The story is not the movie, the experience is. The emotional roller coaster that Lynch takes us on makes the worst psychedelic journey seem palatable. Within fractions we are taken from laughter to perplexity, to a fear that makes your bones rattle to the core, not just for an instant, but long enough to melt into other perspectives. A princess becomes a prostitute, a lover turns into a killer, a victim the hunter. Wives and mothers turn into disease ridden homeless whores doing a dance routine that puts a smile on your face, providing an interlude before you are catapulted into the next wave.

The events in this convoluted pulsating smorgasbord bring you to the brink of madness. The reasoning behind each word spoken, each sound bite, each gesture pointing towards the unknown just around the corner makes your heart misfire. You are unaware of your hypnosis until it’s too late. The logic embedded within each scene makes you believe each reality and possible outcome, witnessing the events unfolding with awe.

I’m not sure how Lynch did it, or how the actors maintained their sanity knowing exactly which lives they were living. It’s possible that the nexus is the lighting, or is it the music? I cannot be sure because I have only experienced it once. Like all-powerful psychedelic journeys it will require multiple exposures to decipher, but it is too exhausting to consume consecutively. So I will wait until I am ready to consult the Lynch oracle again. To know what it means to love and to obey, to take control and let go, and face my fear of circus clowns, now that I have one.

The title of this so-called review is a little misleading because this is not a review; it is, as I stated in the opening paragraph, a recommendation. To call this a review would be equivalent to calling a biography of a prophet a review. ‘Inland Empire’ needs to be experienced in the true sense of the word. It is not a story, it is a message. The lesson is life from a teacher that you will not soon forget.

Just make sure that you find a theater with comfortable seats and that you are dehydrated, because you will not want to leave the movie for a break, possibly missing a glimpse of a truth that cannot be. You will not be able to retain the facts because it’s all part of a Maybe Logic that embraces our collective. Just like life there are no absolutes in ‘Inland Empire’ and no guarantees of a coherent reality; however, one thing is for certain, as the curtains descend you will exit the theater from a Sinful Nina Simone wrap party.

INLAND EMPIRE - HQ ending credit

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