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Inland Empire

Released: 2006

Genre: Experimental

Runtime: 3 hr 0 min

MPAA Rating: R

Director: David Lynch

Starring: Laura Dern, Jeremy Irons, Justin Theroux, Harry Dean Stanton, Julia Ormond

“A woman in trouble.”

A waking nightmare unmatched in the history of movies.

Review by: MiamiMovieCritic

Added: 8 years ago

Free word of advice: Don’t try to make sense of David Lynch’s Inland Empire. That’s entirely not the point, and approaching it the way you would a straight narrative film is like running repeatedly into a brick wall. Just not worth it. That’s not to say the film has no artistic value; quite the contrary. It opens up exciting possibilities for the latter part of Lynch’s career, which he says will be spent entirely in the realm of digital video.

The film is a two-hour masterpiece that unfortunately stretches into three. I wish Lynch had left all the Polish-language stuff on the cutting room floor. It bores me to tears, and I don’t see what it adds in terms of texture. But if you stay awake, you’ll be sucked into a waking nightmare unmatched in the history of movies.

In what is probably the best little-seen performance of the decade, Laura Dern plays – at first – an actress starring in a melodrama called On High in Blue Tomorrows. She plays other characters later, but the central figure – like in Lynch’s best film, Mulholland Drive – is of an actress with an uncertain future. Inland Empire is like the evil twin of Mulholland Drive, with even less regard for the audience’s attention span and even more pain for the protagonist – until the final 10 minutes, that is, which are surprisingly redemptive and hopeful.

The things I cherish most about the film are: Lynch’s experiments with digital video, which often match and even surpass the look of his previous films; Dern’s impossibly focused performance; the sitcom starring the humanoid rabbits; the death scene on Hollywood Boulevard; and all of the crazy musical numbers. The movie constantly hovers between utterly dull and cooler than cool. The scenes where a camera crew suddenly appears are as mind-blowing and cosmically frightening as anything in Kubrick’s 2001. It might take you a few days for you to get through it, but Inland Empire is a trip well worth taking.