Inland Empire - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Inland Empire Reviews

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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?
June 18, 2015
Ugly, unnerving, unsettling, disturbing, and mostly very beautiful. Some say it has no story, when in reality it has something like a handful, all very engaging, and all lying on top of and inside one another. Every now and then the spontaneous dreamy seduction gives way and you can see a lot of this is probably just Lynch farting around with his brand-new SD-DV camcorder.
June 15, 2015
A terrible nightmare where it is a beautiful tapestry for the critics !
May 15, 2015
possibly not total bollox, i'll try watch it again on a long wet sunday
May 14, 2015
Complicated & confusing, even for a David Lynch fan. Inland Empire is a spooky movie for Lynch fans, which leaves you terrified & confused at the same time. Even if you don't get the movie, the movie still leaves you terrified. Not everyone's cup of tea, but for the Lynch fans, it's the same sort of lovely nightmare.
April 25, 2015
A David Lynch film is a tightrope act of sorts. They're all a little abstract, a little bit mystical, but remaining (usually) is a looming mystery that is never solved; the viewer must be ready to interpret the abstruse puzzle presented to them. In a great Lynch film, "Mulholland Dr." for example, a profound characterization can act as a backbone to the many head spinning detours that dawdle in the celluloid. Without one, though, a Lynch film can become intolerable, masturbatory rather than dazzling, a series of puzzle pieces that don't fit anywhere besides his own mind. He is perhaps the definitive hit-or-miss filmmaker - when he hits, his baffling ideas are seductive, lingering in our memory like our very first run-in with Rita Hayworth's Gilda; but when he misses, we're presented with a nightmarish landscape that doesn't make a whole lot of sense, doesn't go anywhere, and doesn't have much in the way of meaning. (And a Lynch film is generally long, making insufferability even more insufferable as the images go on and on and on and on ...)
Simply put, "Inland Empire" is one of David Lynch's most unbearable movies. It's his first film shot completely digitally, done so with a Sony DCR-VX1000 camcorder; the images, in return, are fuzzy and textural. Some, especially Lynch, find this photographic technique to hold more value in terms of enigma and subversion, but I, possibly in the minority, think that this experiment is a downfall. His images are so outrightly peculiar (only he could sell the idea of three people in rabbit suits living in an apartment together in sitcom bliss) that the cheapness of the digital camera makes his once lush pictorial instincts read like an experimental student short. Before, the lavishness of film made diversions into the freakish more of a surprise; here, Lynchian punches no longer hold the shock the once did. This shouldn't suggest that his cinematic mastery is waning - it's the fault of the camera, not his.
Supposedly, "Inland Empire" is about Nikki Grace (Laura Dern), a has-been actress who has just received a part in a movie that could revitalize her once strong career. Her co-star is known womanizer Devon Berk (Justin Theroux), her director the respected Kingsley Stewart (Jeremy Irons). Minutes into the rehearsal process is it revealed that the project is thought to be cursed - it was supposed to be made decades ago, but the actors tragically died during the filmmaking process. Following this revelation, strange things start to occur: Nikki and Devon begin to mimic the lives of the characters they're playing, Sue Blue and Billy Side, and Nikki, desperate as she is to succeed, begins experiencing situations that can only be described as hallucinatory.
I say "supposedly" when providing the plot summary because "Inland Empire" revolves around this storyline for only the first act, possibly even less. It starts off intriguingly, with the same sort of luminous ambiguities of "Lost Highway", until it descends into a labyrinth of entangled phantasms. For a while, the delusions are evocative (the audacious pairings with experimental music are especially fascinating), but at three hours, "Inland Empire" eventually keels over and turns into an unappetizing smorgasbord of Lynchian rejects. As the story was never interesting enough to begin with, interpretation is left untouched; we're either frustrated or stimulated, mostly the former.
The one thing to celebrate in "Inland Empire" is Laura Dern, in a fearless performance. Her character(s) is hardly defined, but Dern gives us a reason to gaze upon her face with utter enthrallment. She wanders around the maze Lynch places her in the middle of; Dern is so breathtaking that, once in a while, she deceives us into thinking that the material is solid rather than flimsy. More or less, "Inland Empire" is flimsy. Lynch wrote the script as filming went on (seriously), and nothing ever commences from it. He is a great director, but nothing is worse than taking an audience for granted, especially when that audience has to meander through a film for 180 minutes.
April 17, 2015
Very long and very weird. If you can accept that some films (most films of David Lynch) don't make sense and are probably not meant to, and you can simply enjoy the weirdness without racking your brain for a reason, then you'll probably enjoy this. A shorter version would have been sufficient though.
April 11, 2015
Another one of my favorite movies. Best to just pretend you're back in the cinema, turn out the lights, turn up the volume and just let this experimental film about identity wash over you. If you are not someone who appreciates David Lynch, experimental art or are afraid of the dark -- do not even attempt to watch it. Brilliant motion picture experience all filmed with cheap video cameras.
Super Reviewer
½ April 7, 2015
Mildly self-indulgent and often slightly pretentious, but interesting throughout nonetheless, Inland Empire finds Lynch at his most provocative since 1977's Eraserhead. The abstract Dalí-like dreamscape that unfolds could be described with any single word in my vocabulary...terrifying, beautiful, sexy, thrilling, funny, crazy... It's good, though but not Lynch's best.
½ March 22, 2015
To fully comprehend & understand this film I don't think is possible...to say it's odd it's an understatement.

It centers on a actress who gains a role of a lifetime that to be honest is unclear if the role is her acting or her head.

There are two strange subplots happening along with the main story. 1) A strange sex trade based in Poland 2) a beyond creepy reality TV show that features human like bunnies. This is an experiment not a linear film...approach with caution.
½ February 26, 2015
With Inland Empire being David Lynch's last feature length film to date and teaming him up again with Laura Dern, it was a feature I had to behold.

With the premise in Inland Empire chronicling a woman as she attempts to succeed in a Hollywood career, it comes off as being familiar to David Lynch's Academy Award nominated Mulholland Drive. Following the same kind of narrative path, Inland Empire has a premise which is convoluted and a plot structure which has never heard of the word consistency which works to its atmospheric benefit. At the same time, it is clearly likely to isolate viewers who are not already fans of David Lynch. Many people would be more critical of Inland Empire if his name was not on the director's credit, but because it is David Lynch showing a clever experimentation in surrealist cinema once again, fans of his should find appreciation for his relentlessly sick and twisted mind while newcomers are bound to be isolated and confused. The script itself is really interesting because though understanding the characters is a challenge, they are all interesting creations with strong dialogue and are perfectly cast. But they are more interested for how they are treated to the narrative than for being general creations.
No stranger to testing the limits, David Lynch puts an all new kind of filmmaking style into Inland Empire. With the cinematography being built on cameras of a more average quality and following basic techniques, Inland Empire almost feels like it is shot in a documentary format which gives an odd sense of realism to the feature. Since realism is not synonymous with David Lynch in any sense of the word, it is intriguing to witness. The cinematography of Inland Empire gives it an interesting visual edge, and it captures the grim and dark colour palette of the production design very nicely. The lighting of the film is key to this because it keeps things dark yet easy to see, making for an interesting visual experience which is edited well. And with the power of a soundtrack that combines intense compositional pieces with some occasional jazz pieces and more, leading to a dark yet glamourous atmosphere. Inland Empire is an impressive exercise in style from David Lynch which compensates for a lot of the narrative complications.
While the plot structure of Mulholland Drive was not chronological, Inland Empire follows that path a bit more clearly. It doesn't mean that the film is not convoluted, sick and twisted, but at least it is somewhat easier to make sense of. Returning to what he is best at, David Lynchc crafts a story which really tugs viewers all over the place. While the confusing elements of the film and the slow pace are a lot to take in, especially considering the fact that the film runs for nearly three hours, his gleeful passion for merciless surrealism injects a powerful atmosphere into Inland Empire which is unforgettable. Embracing the story is not always easy, but David Lynch's work is undeniable because the film is a truly haunting sentiment, being thoroughly scary and torturing to the mind. If the narrative of the film is not flawless, then the experience itself is powerful enough to leave most viewer shocked and that is where the true source of strength comes into play. Inland Empire above all is a powerful psychological thriller which is full of surrealism iconic of David Lynch. Since he has not made a film in the last nine years, Inland Empire simply serves as a reminder that he still has all his iconic talents and serves as a piece of hope that one day he will come back to wow audiences all over again. In all honesty, it is one of my more favourable of his films.
And with perfect casting, Inland Empire does not fail to bring the best out of its actors.
Laura Dern's leading performance in Inland Empire really gives the film its necessary human touch. In one of the finest leading performances from her entire career, Laura Dern has Inland Empire revolving entirely around her and capturing the interests of viewers. Her performance has been touted as one of her finest to date, and that is because she is at the centre of the film. Everything is about her, even if the narrative skews off from her story occasionally. After working intensively well with David Lynch on Wild at Heart, she returns to team up with him on Inland Empire to give a performance many call the best of her career and it is not hard to see why. She captures the determination and fractured innocence of Naomi Watts' character Betty Elms in Mulholland Drive, but with more engagement in the atmosphere and an unflinching passion for succumbing to the harsh nature of everything. Laura Dern proves to audiences that she is David Lynch's ultimate leading lady in Inland Empire, and her physical and emotional involvement in the role ensures that she has no trouble embracing the dark nature of the material at all.
Justin Theroux is also great in Inland Empire. He consistently seems phased in his part as he stands up to the dark nature of the film with a perfect sense of just how sick and twisted it is. He accepts the world around him and engages with it on a level which is unflinchingly confident and displays his ability to interact with the surrounding cast very well, particularly with Laura Dern. Since he was also present in Mulholland Drive, he is a genial presence anyway, but he goes beyond being just that.
Jeremy Irons is also very good due to his sophistication and his fearless approach to the dark subject matter, and the cameo of William H. Macy is a nice touch.

So though Inland Empire is as convoluted, sick and twisted as you would expect as well as being a bit of a stretch, the intense and dark atmosphere of the film established by David Lynch's direction and Laura Dern's leading performance is unforgettable.
½ February 17, 2015
slow weird but ultimately rewarding journey
January 28, 2015
Even Lynch fans will have difficulty watching this movie, it's so full of symbolisms and fragmented meanings, hard to sit through for almost 3 hours straight without some kind of anxiety, yet, I found it extremely compelling, and I love Laura Dern, so there you have it.
January 15, 2015
Easily one of Lynchs most intriguing and terryfying films, Inland Empire relies heavily on its surrealistic imagery and premise, making it a movie that while hard to follow, is still pretty haunting and interesting for the sake of the dream-like, almost nightmerish, moments it can create, and with great acting and characters, it is a film that every Lynch fan would love to watch over and over only for the sake of decrypting its deepest meanings.
½ December 28, 2014
As dense as a steel ball bearing.
December 23, 2014
Ok, Twin Peaks was great, but enough is enough. Post Twin Peaks Lynch is a hack. We get it, David, hand held close up camcorder shots and camera filters that feel like a 90s after school special, or at best a high budget porno, is your signature film style. You're so surreal and edgy; too bad your movies are aesthetically repulsive and as boring as watching paint do paint shit.
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