Under the Silver Lake ★★★

3-out-of-4: liked, but not loved.

Under the Silver Lake is a mystery, and literally a puzzle of a movie. It stars Andrew Garfield as a kind of slacker Hitchcock-ian noir detective, but one who also might be schizophrenic. He sees patterns, (rightly?) assumes the universe speaks to him and obsesses over the meanings.

The story begins when Garfield meets a girl, Riley Keough, at his apartment complex. They flirt and plan to meet up the next day, but by the next morning her apartment is abandoned. Garfield later watches as a stranger visits the abandoned apartment and take some left-behind items. He follows, hoping to find out what happened to Keough. As he goes, strange occurrences lead him in different directions, conspiracies arise, and strange new characters, like the Songwriter, Owl Woman, and the Homeless King are introduced. In other words, it gets really weird and becomes more difficult to retain your footing and follow along.

There are not only clues in the movie for Garfield to decipher, as he struggles to reconcile what happened to Keough, but there are clues in the movie for the audience to decipher. Patterns appear in images, text written on walls, ciphers, and so on.

What does it all mean? I'm still considering. But in the end maybe the mystery is more interesting than the answer. In that way, it would remind me of David Lynch's Mulholland Drive -- worth considering but perhaps not the point. That said, I don't think I would put Under the Silver Lake into that tier yet. Mulholland Drive is endlessly fascinating to me, and while I felt grabbed by Under the Silver Lake, I'm not sure I felt that same kind of pull. Then again, I am interested in watching this once more -- to consider the moments within the story now that I have seen the whole.

For now, I think 3 stars is right, but I could see that score changing with time. At the very least, it's a movie that screams cult-classic appeal.

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