Our review from the New York Film Festival is here. We had forgotten until we started reading through the critics’ attempts at parsing David Lynch‘s latest that it contains one of the most frightening shots we can think of â€” one consisting solely of a spotlit Laura Dern taking a lurching run at the camera.
Seriously, it’s really fucking unnerving.
+ "Inland Empire": J. Hoberman at the Village Voice declares the film "Lynch’s most experimental film since Eraserhead. But unlike that brilliant debut (or its two masterful successors, Blue Velvet and Mulholland Dr.), it lacks concentration. It’s a miasma. Cheap DV technology has opened Lynch’s mental floodgates." That being said, he still concludes that "It’s an experience. Either you give yourself over to it or you don’t. And if you do, don’t miss the end credits."
Similarly bemused are Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly and David Edelstein at New York. Gleiberman writes that "What this comes down to is that we have no idea who anybody in the movie is. They’re not characters, they’re figments, skulking through a Lynchian maze of mounting, patched-together discombobulation. Inland Empire is so locked up in David Lynch’s brain that it never burrows its way into ours." Edelstein writes that:
As much as I thrilled to every minute of Mulholland Drive, I remembered, watching Inland Empire, why Twin Peaks began to hemorrhage viewers in its second season. There are really enough distorted lenses, absurd non sequiturs, portentous warnings, and inexplicable symbols for ten canceled TV shows. And yet â€¦ and yet â€¦
Michael Koresky at indieWIRE allows that "[f]or those not on [Lynch’s] wavelength…"Inland Empire" can be a trial, but it’s worth sticking out: some moments are the most penetrating and rich of his entire career, and one especially, involving a seriously wounded Dern, gurgling blood on a sidewalk, as two eloquently oblivious homeless women exchange tragically mundane words next to her, is simply transcendent."
And at the New York Times, in a rather fabulously written review, Manohla Dargis weighs in:
In an interview published while this film was in production, Mr. Lynch said he shot â€œInland Empireâ€ without a final screenplay, which is easy to believe. Like the surrealist practice of automatic writing, the film feels as if it could have been made in a trance, dredged up from within. Then again, this is a filmmaker who probably doesnâ€™t need to tap his unconscious to let loose his demons; one suspects they are lurking right there in the open. Even when his images are flooded with bright Southern California light, danger hovers, suggestively buzzing. No one makes that caressing light seem so dark, so frightening, perhaps because few American filmmakers dare to peel back the surface of things to show us what squirms beneath.