This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Jacob’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Well, I finally did it. I found the Inland Empire DVD. I'd been on the lookout for it for the better part of a year now. I know this movie is on YouTube but I told myself that I wouldn't watch it until I had a physical copy. There was something to be gained by "earning it" so to speak.
This was the last David Lynch movie remaining for me to see, and I wanted to not cheap out and take the easy path. I wanted the thrill of finding it for myself. The thrill I feel when I find a good book in a used bookstore, or a rare original pressing of a great vinyl album at a thrift shop. There's something to be said for physical media. Owning it. Holding it in your hand. Seeing the physical cover artwork in front of you, instead of on a TV or phone. I am a huge fan and user of streaming services for movies, music, audiobooks, etc, but sometimes the extra cost and effort is worth it. This undoubtedly was one of those times.
My journey to finding and watching this movie was a strange one involving
1. an online Reddit tip of the DVD's whereabouts
2. A conveniently timed family trip to NYC, the location of bookstore where the DVD had been spotted.
3. $60 of my hard earned cash.
4. Carefully scraping pricing sticker(s) off with my fingernail for the better part of an hour (there were three stickers all on top of each other made of different material)
5. Putting in the DVD to be greeted by an in depth guide, created by David Lynch, on how to properly calibrate your TV for the "optimal viewing experience".
6. Spending 30 minutes calibrating my TV for the "optimal viewing experience".
7. Finally pressing play on the thing I'd been nearly obsessively anticipating for almost a year.
The thing is, I didn't expect to like this movie. I certainly expected to be interested in it, and enjoy the spectacle to some extent. But I had heard enough things about it where I was cautiously pessimistic about the quality of the actual movie. Lynch is my favorite director and I would have been satisfied to simply have his final movie in my possession and say I've watched it. In other words, it was always about the journey for me. I didn't try to stress too much about how the destination would be.
Boy was I wrong.
I'm not going to try to explain this movie. There's a lot that can be fairly easily picked up by intuition (especially if you're already familiar with Lynch's style), and I know better than to try to apply meaning to every little thing that intuition doesn't cover.
I think this might be the best thing Lynch has ever done. It's at least in the running with his other famed efforts, and despite initially seeming like another run at the old Mulholland Drive/Lost Highway schtick (which would be a perfectly fine thing) this movie becomes wholly unique. Not only in Lynch's filmography, but in all of cinema as a whole.
The way it displays emotions you didn't think were possible to be visualized, the way it sinks a dagger of terror into your heart from almost the first few scenes, the way you learn to question everything you see and everything you hear. This is wholly unique storytelling (and yes it is storytelling) and might be the most visually striking movie I've ever seen.
Laura Dern deserves an equal, if not a majority, amount of the credit here too. She gives what is undoubtedly the performance of her career (so far 😉) and probably one of the greatest overall performances I've seen by a lead ever.
Justin Theroux, Jeremy Irons, Harry Dean Stanton, and Krzysztof Majchrzak are also phenomenal.
I have plenty other thoughts on it but I need to sit and think a while on it first.
Watch this movie.
Edit: here's two quotes that act as an explanation to every Lynch movie, including this one.
"We are like the dreamer who dreams, and then lives inside the dream. But who is the dreamer?"
"The idea tells you everything. Lots of times I get ideas, I fall in love with them. Those ones you fall in love with are really special ideas. And in some ways, I always say, when something’s abstract, the abstractions are hard to put into words — unless you’re a poet.
But these ideas, you somehow know. And cinema is a language that can say abstractions. I love stories, but I love stories that can hold abstractions, and cinema can say these to difficult-to-say-in-words things.
I should know the meaning for me. But when things get abstract, it does no good for me to say what it is. All viewers, on the surface, we’re all different. And we see something — and that’s another place where intuition kicks in. You see the thing, you think about it, you feel it. And you go and you sort of know something inside. You can bring your light on that.
And another thing I say is, if you go after a film with abstractions to a coffee place, and you’re having coffee with your friends, someone will say something, and immediately you’ll say, ‘No, no, no, that’s not what that was about.’ So many things come out, it’s surprising.
So you do know, you do know. For yourself. And what you know is valid."