I love David Lynch. BLUE VELVET and MULHOLLAND DRIVE are two of my all time favorite films. I still think TWIN PEAKS was one of the best network TV series ever. THE ELEPHANT MAN is a masterpiece, WILD AT HEART is a blast. I even liked DUNE!
So, why did it take me this long to see INLAND EMPIRE? Well, the Netflix disk arrived in March, but somehow I managed to make all sorts of excuses why I couldn't watch it. Mostly, at 3 hours long, I couldn't imagine a time when I could actually be able to watch it in one sitting without having any interruptions. Well, thanks to a knee injury that required R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) I finally had the time to watch it!
Well, I have to say there were parts of the film that I totally loved. A subplot featuring clips from a "sitcom" about talking rabbits (complete with an inappropriate laughtrack) was astounding. In several roles (I think), Laura Dern gave the performance of her career (I'd say Oscar worthy) and her mom Diane Ladd was an absolute hoot as a TV gossip maven! Other Lynch regulars like Justin Theroux, Harry Dean Stanton and Grace Zabriskie were also fun to watch.
So, what was INLAND EMPIRE about? Well David Lynch has said it's "about a woman in trouble, and it's a mystery." And that pretty much sums it up. You start off confused and then every time you think you finally know what's happening, everything changes and you get confused all over again. It's both frustrating and mentally challenging, but never dull.
The film has Polish prostitutes, talking rabbits, a wacky dance number to Little Eva's "Loco-Motion", a Mrs. Kravitz-like nosy neighbor (Zabriskie), a ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT parody, a movie within the movie called "On High in Blue Tomorrows", a screenplay with a gypsy curse, a deadly screwdriver, a hypnotic phantom with a lightbulb in his mouth, and an amazing monologue from a japanese homeless girl about her friend in Pomona who has a pet monkey!!! Need I say more?
The thing about Lynch is that while some directors like Jonathan Demme and Steven Soderbergh started off with smaller, odd films and have graduated to big-budget mainstream studio stuff, Lynch has made his latest feature film every bit as strange as 1977's ERASERHEAD. You just gotta love the guy for that.
Do I recommend INLAND EMPIRE? Sure - but you gotta be in the mood and have three hours of free time, and be prepared to say "Huh?" about every three minutes.