Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Inland Empire

Inland Empire (David Lynch, 2006) [5]

I don't want to be someone taking a director to task for being too self-indulgent or not knowing when to edit because I generally believe in the auteur theory and giving directors the benefit of the doubt. The problems with this film is what I mentioned above. It is a film that has some very interesting things going on but is too rambling and incohesive to make much sense. David Lynch has never been one to have a straightforward narrative, which I'm not talking about when I talk about this film not making sense. Speaking on a formal level, this has too much going on to make it work. Some things seem downright unnecessary, from the rabbit headed characters sitcom to the film within a film within a film and (I'm assuming) the ex-flames of the male star of the film within a film. Lynch throws so much into this that he really weakens the strength of the film which is the Laura Dern character's journey. If Lynch were to just focus on her, it would have been a shorter, and greater film. Dern is absolutely fearless in her role, and the scenes with her are truly the most memorable. As the film goes, she descends deeper into a filmic world where the reality we're given at the beginning and the supposed film become more and more indistinguishable. This blurriness of temporal space is probably the most irritating feature to someone watching accustomed to narrative. This isn't a film that conventional narrative can be found and it shouldn't be applied either. Inland Empire is Lynch's most experimental work and it should really be looked at in regards to experimental film. That being said, in my mind the one major reason experimental film can go wrong is if it becomes too self-indulgent. Inland Empire is guilty of that mostly because by shooting on DV, Lynch can shoot much more footage than with film. I'll come out and say I despise DV on aesthetic levels, but I'll admit Lynch makes it work to his advantage at times. But it also allowed him to film a lot of scenes that weren't necessary. That lack of editorial discretion makes this film too long and lessens the impact of what works. At its central focus, Inland Empire has some very strong elements working in its favor, but by failing to harness his ambitions, Lynch ends up with a film that just doesn't quite hit its mark.

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