Laura Dern’s reaction shots in the Jurassic Park saga stand her in good stead in David Lynch’s ‘Inland Empire. Since there are no dinosaurs (just rabbits!) she also has to act some. I was impressed. A tough role – or, should I say, tough roles as she plays both actress Nikki Grace Król and hooker Sue Blue. A challenge too given that she, along with the rest of the cast, had no clue what the character was about and what her fate would be.
So what exactly is the movie all about? If you need to ask you’re missing the point. Lynch himself says it is about ‘a girl in trouble’ which is as good a summary as you can hope for from the man. If you’re concerned that this is not expansive enough, then the chances are you’ve not been seduced by his twisted movie-verse. And if you’re not , a close to three hour full immersion into his mindset will not convert you.
British critic Paul Taylor’s summed up Lynch’s films well when he said they are “to be experienced rather than explained” .
As with Mulholland Drive, Inland Empire begins with an Hitchcock style mystery, this time surrounding a film within a film which is supposed to be cursed. A relatively coherent narrative soon lurches off into the waking dream /living nightmare world that has been a recurring theme in all Lynch’s projects. There are the usual corridors, doors, dark forests,dimly lit rooms and here there’s a few extras like life size rabbits dressed as humans, a dancing group of hookers and thuggish Polish men.
Much of this could be just farcical if it weren’t so damn scary.
David Foster Wallace once wrote that “David Lynch knows that an act of violence in an American film has, through repetition and desensitization, lost the ability to refer to anything but itself”. True, I think. His depiction of physical aggression may be less explicit here than it was, say, in Wild At Heart, but it remains a constant threat to give the pervading sense of claustrophobic menace.
Another great film by a unique filmmaker.