Inland Empire - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Inland Empire Reviews

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November 21, 2016
While it might be somewhat of a marathon watch, it contains all of the typical David Lynch tropes, only cranked up to 11. It'll first delight you with great performances and an interesting plot before pulling the rug under you, constantly disorienting and teasing you. This might be his most surreal film, but it's also one of his most uncomfortable ones. A must see for Lynch fans.
November 9, 2016
As with so much of David Lynch's output, this isn't an easy watch. It's long, incoherent and a test of the viewer's stamina. What narrative there is revolves around a Hollywood actress (producer-star Laura Dern, excellent) apparently trapped in a waking nightmare that features violence, prostitution, long dark corridors and a sitcom starring a family of rabbits. It's a film that is hallucinatory, self-indulgent and entirely held together by Laura Dern's performance and Lynch's brooding camerawork.
October 8, 2016
Without doubt this is only for the auteur's most ardent admirers; I'm an ardent admirer. :D Strange, and surreal, and otherworldly, and trippy, and leisurely-paced, and best viewed while stoned (so I'm told).... ;)
½ September 4, 2016
Non-spoilers first

Great movie.

A really unique way of filming, using a digital camera of questionable quality. A really unique way of writing, giving actors new scripts each day, apparently channeling some Godard. And a narrative so twisted and surreal it makes Eraserhead look like Inception.

The plot, or maybe plots, or maybe even more precisely the complete lack of plot, earns its reputation for being extremely experimental. I think I have a pretty good idea of the main themes that are being explored but I'm not entirely sure how they are meant to reacted to.

*Spoilers for those who haven't seen it, I would definitely recommend watching the movie first before reading about it's contents*

For me I feel like the movie is exploring the fragility of modern domestic life, and the different ways sexual liberation, and to a certain extent sexual abuse and human sex trafficking, have effected "traditional" family structures. There are also some very meta elements portraying how media portrays relationships and how a person's expectations can be shaped by what they see in fiction.
½ July 17, 2016
As usual, Mr. Lynch's potent surrealism is often murky and hollow, yet it reaps rewards when you see the beauty and profundity in his dark depiction of Hollywood.
Film C.
Super Reviewer
½ June 26, 2016
Suits for the style of shooting but quite long.
½ April 26, 2016
Utter pretentious Arthouse Twaddle.
March 20, 2016
It was difficult for me to choose a rating for this film, but I ended up going with 5 stars because a) it is a film like no other movie I have ever seen before and b) its weirdness and confusion is very enticing, despite being seemingly random. I will definitely watch this movie again soon in the hopes of understanding it more.
½ February 17, 2016
what a sack of shit Mr. Lynch!!
January 30, 2016
Experimental on every level, this is Lynch taking more risks than ever before, continuing to challenge himself and everyone involved in the production. While it's not going to be everyone's cup of tea, I found it enjoyable. Especially good is Laura Dern. Justin Theroux's mullet is awful.
January 16, 2016
This three-hour long movie has David LYNCH's signature of multilayered intertwining approach to storytelling, which is rather confusing. It is nevertheless interesting, but only if the viewer can tolerate a hefty amount of bewilderment and accept that she or he may not understand how parts of the movie fit together.
½ November 9, 2015
Hopefully not Lynch's final movie. The subconscious darkness unfold a thousand empires. As the story diverge into another doom love story of death, going from high class to the bloody streets of pulling tricks. It's a endless long dark travel into the core of pain.
September 4, 2015
An absolute nightmare.
½ August 31, 2015
I'm all for the surreal, i'm all for the weirdness and lack of traditional narrative structure and coherence; but fuck me this was too much...

All of Lynch's signature tropes only work when he writes compelling and interesting characters so we the audience can at least engage in that side of the film which act as an anchor while we navigate whatever fucked up dream like web he's spinning in his movies. Unfortunately, Inland Empire has zilch, zero, none which removes any mystique or artistic integrity of the piece and makes the picture feel weird for the sake of being weird. Not to mention, the camcorder footage makes it feel like a 16 year olds attempt at making a David Lynch movie. I get it's cheaper but my god it doesn't half make everything look cheap. Laura Dern is uncontrollably committed to Lynch's material which is admirable but doesn't serve the picture as the material itself is incomprehensible and feels almost like self-parody in many places. Maybe I wouldn't be so disappointed as well if it was 90 mins or even 120 mins... But this was 3 hours... a long, long, three hours. But at least I can say i've seen it now... Whatever that means.
½ August 28, 2015
David Lynch is a god
½ August 17, 2015
The one Lynch movie that just didn't hold me. Through the first hour or so, he spins a very interesting story about an actress falling into her character, but as the film derails, it's hard to focus on anything. This is heightened by the fact that the film is shot on video at a time where video was awful quality - so it's a standard def home-video feel. I actually came to appreciate the style and intimacy that provided, but it made appreciating the visuals more difficult as the narrative dropped off.
August 16, 2015
INLAND EMPIRE walks the same ground as "Lost Highway" or "Mulholland Drive", but, this time, offers no simple key to unlock it's labyrinthine narrative. On one hand, the film is harsher, nastier and more self-contained. On the other hand, it might turn out to be a more fascinating ride for a limited audience.

Being shot in digital, it is not as visually appealing as most of David Lynch's films are and, yet, in spite of some moments of annoying clumsiness, the digital environment offers a rather disturbing tone.

This film also channels the usual fantasy/reality Lynch blend into a different manner. One which doesn't prioritize layers. If in films such as Mulholland Dr. or Lost highway, one can get a sense of which layer is the main one(even if they do go hand in hand to develop a singurlar story), here, the layers are set side by side and it is very difficult to tell which one generated the other(s).

Having said this, I see INLAND EMPIRE as a chamber of mirrors in which the same image reflects in different ways.

Again, the different narratives make sense on their own and you can even tie them together. But you can do that in different ways and this one of the reasons for which INLAND EMPIRE is - or can be - confusing.

Also, INLAND EMPIRE features plenty of horror elements and some interesting Polish touches.

However, this David Lynch film has its share of minuses. First of all, the Laura Dern monologues become exhausting, after a certain point on. Yes, they are strongly acted, but they bring to little to the whole material. Also, INLAND EMPIRE is too fragmented for its own good and features too many self-contained scenes. Yes, this might have worked better had the film had not felt that short on narrative. Many of those scenes were, indeed, lovely, but in a film with so many layers, one might expect more narrative. And the most amusing thing is that some of the deleted scenes would have been very useful.

David Lynch relies alot on subtraction, but in INLAND EMPIRE too much has been subtracted, leaving a film that is interesting to watch and talk about, but that never seems to come out as a whole.

Overall, INLAND EMPIRE is ambitious, even if, sometimes, annoyingly self-referential, and provides Lynch fans plenty of things to chew on, but, on the other hand, it doesn't have the impact of some of Lynch's previous offerings.

I can't make up my mind on whether this film is an interesting failure or a good experimental flick with some minuses, but somehow, it works the same way.

I am giving this 3 out of 5, but only because RT "insists" on this, because I don't think a rating system applies this David Lynch flick.
½ August 4, 2015
Lynch's Inland Empire is tangentially about an actress trapped in some sort of limbo between two films (and possibly worlds) who slowly begins to inhabit the life of a Polish actress who played the same role in an earlier production, but (in the style of Bergman's Persona and several Goddard films) it plays like some sort of amalgamation of various films wildly scrambled up and pieced together. This effect plays with the audience's perceptions of reality, layers of meta-fiction toying with the nature of film and performance in order to blur the line between the "real" and the fictional, and even though it appears to reveal the order of events as it goes along this barely contributes to a logical understanding of why they're occurring in the first place. Ultimately, this kind of thing will yield different results for different viewers, and it's possible to vacillate between writing it off as self-indulgent nonsense one moment and finding it brilliant the next; as it stands from my point of view, Inland Empire exists as a horror-satire of Hollywood's abusive nature and film as a medium, a visual representation of the digital age with a hyperlink-esque random plot to match. It's a bizarre piece of filmmaking, but its almost certainly guaranteed to keep the viewer entertained.
½ July 17, 2015
Oh boy. Well I can only blame myself for sitting through that "art". Like seriously, movies don't often get me mad, but the level of pretentiousness on display here is sickening. It can't even be enjoyed on a strictly aesthetic level like his other films, due to the cruddy look of filming it on digital video.
July 7, 2015
David Lynch's, as of yet, last commitment to cinema was equally hailed as both his best and most convoluted worst work committed in his canon of nightmarish delights. I will happily stand up right now and say that Inland Empire is both alienating and extremely brutal to push your way right through to the end with. However this only makes the experience feel more real and rewarding by its conclusion. It's 1 minute shy of 3 hours run time, instantly makes it one that you cant just shove on, in the back ground and turn your brain off, as Inland Empire requires you to have every brain cell operating at its fullest, in order for you to get any sense of cohesion from it, but if your willing to slug it out, it is as rewarding and demanding as some of Lynch's best work to day. Bare with me here, so the film follows an unnamed woman, she is sad, alone and trapped within a nightmare, here she has no option but to glue herself to the television, however this channel isnt exactly HBO or BBC, its a television of nightmarish and ghastly proportions, churning out bizarre erotic pornography and a sitcom that's 3 lead characters are bunny rabbits... Still with me? So on the screen starts what appears to be a highly resonate and depraved movie about an actress, played by Laura Dern, who is married to a very dangerous and frightening Polish man, hugely wealthy and feared by all. She is lucky enough to receive a role in a new up and coming Hollywood film, directed by a hot shot director Kingsley and co star with a heart throb Devon, its the chance of a lifetime for her and if all goes well, it could cement her place, firmly in Hollywood, only soon Nicky, Dern, becomes confused with her character and real life and is unable to let go of a highly intoxicating and demanding character and to go any deeper into it would just lose you completely. Even with my summary I have barely scratched the surface and it can hardly be set in stone as Lynch is always been about what you take away from his imagery and bizarre story arcs. It is extremely tough, I find the best way is to just allow it all to flow through and try to digest later, forcing multiple viewings and constant conversation. It is most certainly art, but to what degree of connection to your self, is entirely up to you as an individual. One thing that can be said is this cast, apart from being a huge wealth of talent, are all in it for the long shot, no performance to weak, no character to small to own mere moments of screen, talent such as Laura Dern, Justin Theroux, Jeremy Irons, William H. Macy, Terry Crews, Harry Dean Stanton, Diane Ladd, Grace Zabrinski, Naomi Watts, Laura Harring and Scott Coffey to name merely a few, in this huge black comedy, psycho thrilling, satire, stuff with horror, intrigue and romance. Its fucking deep. And Dern shatters the screen with her multi layered, bipolar and hypnotizing role as Nicky. Her arc is so wonderfully crafted and woven together, that by the very last frame, we are still unsure of just how deep she went down the rabbit hole. Justin Theroux is perfect as Devon, his whit, looks and charisma just ooze every time hes on screen. Jeremy Irons is outstanding as Kingsley and Harry Dean Stanton is a work of genius as his right hand man. Even William H. Macy makes his 30 second intervention wonderfully hilarious, magnetic and highly resonate, 30 seconds, seriously name a character in any film, who has 30 seconds to completely blow you off your feet. It happens here. All this would be lost, if it were not for Lynch's new and unorthodox approach to film making. He has pushed himself away from being as cinematic as possible, with huge multi layered story lines, shot lists comprised of 75 percent close ups and a script that takes just about every ounce of energy in which to decipher, and even then you wont get close, he tries something new, its not user friendly and it most certainly will not gain him any new fans, more appease his already existing followers. Trust me, you want a friend to get into Lynch, this is NOT the one to start on. Ease them in with Blue Velvet or Elephant Man, as this thing is as far detached but equally as stunning as both of those films. The new digital aspect of his film, also works in making the film feel incredibly lifelike, you feel like you are in the film, taking part, which is probably why its so difficult to get through, as what our characters have to go through is tormenting and a battle of strength. We feel exhausted 1 hour in and there is still 2 hours to go. Lynch continually throws curve balls, using all of his previous card tricks, in a well paced out manner, in order to keep the ship floating and for me, it works. He throws in some new moments, like the locomotion, yes that one and Sinner man, which could act solely as music videos, but their inclusion is hysterical and hypnotic all at the same time. Even in the sound department, the first time away from Angelo Badalamenti, long time collaberator, the score is excellently crafted and the use of songs from Beck and other great artists and warmly welcomed and dont feel shoe horned in. All this being said, the 3rd act does begin to wilt, and it leaves you asking yourself a huge question, what am I doing, why have I spent my time with this? For a huge portion of people, making it to the 3rd act, is just not going to happen, sleep or surrender will kick in long before then, Inland Empire does not want you to like it, it wants you to endure it, live it, breathe it and it is without a doubt one of the most accurately depicted collapse in mental health ever committed to cinema, but people are not going to be comfortable with that, some will even hum and haw at its potentional sway into the art wank category. However for those of you, willing to sit through marathon-esque nightmares, enveloping your life within the film, you will come out the other side, scorned maybe but thinking. People sometimes forget that film is a visual medium, and although this is a jumbled pot of ideas, wonderfully woven into one, it consistantly hits every note a film should, always coming back around and never getting too lost within itself. Not for everyone, not just for anyone. Inland Empire will push you as far as you can go, the question is, how far are you willing to go?
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