Film review – INLAND EMPIRE (2006)

Laura Dern (Blue Velvet, Jurassic Park) plays an actress making a comeback in Hollywood by appearing in a cursed film. Her identity begins to blur with her onscreen persona and that of a poor housewife who turns tricks on the side. But the whole thing is possibly the mental projection of a distressed Polish girl who has been forced into prostitution. Then there are the three people dressed as rabbits who seem to exist in a bizarre sit-com. This is definitively a film by David Lynch (Lost Highway, Mulholland Dr.) filled with his trademark evocative music, industrial sound scapes, stylised dialogue and arresting visuals created simply through creative lighting and editing.

There are no straightforward explanations for what occurs in INLAND EMPIRE although it recaps Lynch’s favourite themes of identity, artifice and male violence. Lynch’s films have rarely made much literal sense but generate an emotional punch that traditional storytelling simply cannot deliver. Many people will find this highly avant-garde film absolutely confounding but audiences who can appreciate that you don’t have to understand a film in order to ‘get it’ will relish INLAND EMPIRE.

Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 292, 2007

© Thomas Caldwell, 2007