This one really is going to be a short post because I have honestly no idea what to say about this film. I watched it in hopes that it would be a good companion to Mulholland Drive for an essay I was writing on Lynch but I found this film so entire bewildering that from about 40 minutes in I was so lost I couldn’t even make notes on it. The very basic set up is that Laura Dern plays an actress called Nikki Grace who gets a role in a strange film and during the process of shooting her life and the film start to blend. Well thats a paraphrasing of the DVD blurb and maybe is accurate to like, a fifth of the overall film, but if there’s anything I managed to take away from this, is that maybe its not something to be understood in a conventional way. This is the most balls to the wall surrealist piece of work that I’ve seen of Lynch’s (admittedly I’ve only seen Mulholland Drive, Twin Peaks S1, Blue Velvet and Eraserhead) and the root of surrealism is Dadaism which had the slogan ‘DADA doesn’t mean anything’. Whereas films like Mulholland Drive and Blue Velvet are mostly surrealist due to their narratives and Lynch’s formation of space, Inland Empire uses an arsenal of surrealist film-making techniques without the strongly grounded narrative throughline of the other films I mentioned.
Because of the ambiguity of literally everything in the film and its lengthy run time, it really is an endeavor to watch this, and you have to really let yourself go with it and try your best not to get frustrated. Theres a lot of rewarding material in here with a great performance from Laura Dern to carry you through most of it, as usual Lynch has a way of making everything terrifying even if it really shouldn’t be, I audibly screamed at one point and was just generally on edge throughout. What I took from the film was that it was a comment on the experience of watching something (films/tv) and the ownership that audiences often feel over actors, I honestly cant say if thats right at all, but similarly I don’t think it’d be easy to tell me I was wrong which is always nice. Just to round it out a little, I should say that I did enjoy this film a lot, I really want to watch it again and see if I can figure it out a little more, but in my (very non-expert) opinion, if you’re a fan of Lynch and the way Mulholland Drive is structured, then this is definitely worth a watch, if for nothing else to see how Lynch builds a palpable sense of dread throughout every frame of this absolutely bizarre film.