Venice Film Festival 2006
By Mark Salisbury, Premiere Magazine
Even more disappointing was David Lynch's Inland Empire, his first film since Mullholland Drive, which received its world premiere here, with Lynch also the youngest recipient of the festival's Lifetime Achievement Award. The plot, such as it is, tells of actress Nikki (Laura Dern) who joins the cast of a movie directed by Jeremy Irons' Kingsley and co-starring Justin Theroux's philandering Devon. As Nikki learns of the project's troubled history — it's a remake of a cursed movie whose leads both died — she and Devon seem to become their characters.
Bewildering and infuriating if occasionally inspired, the near three hour film is filled with many of the director's usual preoccupations — perception, memory, characters within characters, worlds within worlds — and the sound design, as you'd expect from Lynch, is amazing. But what do the Polish gangsters (a large part of the movie is subtitled) or the TV sitcom sequences featuring three people dressed as rabbits (and voiced by Naomi Watts and Laura Harring) have to do with anything? And why do the nine hookers Dern winds up with suddenly start singing and dancing to "The Locomotion"? Perhaps it wouldn't matter so much if the murky DV footage didn't make it so difficult to watch.
Lynch, apparently, filmed this over the course of two and a half years with no script — which actually makes Dern's performance ever more astonishing — marking it out as his most experimental work since Eraserhead. The fact that, at present, it doesn't have a US distributor should come as no surprise.
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