After hearing so much about Inland Empire - David Lynch's first film in five years - I was excited to see it. I couldn't wait to be enveloped in darkness. I heard someone on the radio describe it as,"a three-hour nightmare." So, you can understand how excited I was when the lights dimmed and the screen lit up. I was ready to be terrorized.
The opening scenes are beautiful and heavy and dark - with both figure's upper bodies blurred out, as they walk down a hallway and into a room(I am guessing it's a hotel room). The two figures are a man and a woman. And, it's in Polish. The dialogue, for whatever reason, starts out in Polish. And, it's concerning sex for money. She's a prostitute.
I have read a few reviews on this movie and all seem to completely discount the beginning with the prostitute. All seem to focus on actress Nikki Grace(Laura Dern) as the main character, and see the prostitute the movie started out with as inconsequential. I, however, believe the prostitute is the main character and Nikki Grace is simply a mental projection/fabrication through which this poor polish girl crawls further inward - to escape the pain of her life and all of the disappointments and misfortunes that got her there - to that very moment, in bed, in front of the TV crying. I believe this movie follows a rather obvious narrative, about a prostitute who has basically lost her mind and is locked in some sort of psychosis. But, none of this means a hill of beans, because this movie stinks!
This was by far one of the worst movies I have ever seen. EVER. It was over long, and over boring. And don't let this whole "it's not a studio movie" selling point fool you. There's a reason why a studio ain't backing this film. Oh yeah, and it's extremely hard on the eyes. Meaning, its ugly as hell. Perhaps this movie would have worked for me more if it had not been filmed with a video camera - if it didn't look like a fucking home movie or porn. Which brings me to another point.
Inland Empire's visuals really help drag the movie down into the gutter. It is one hideous movie, with few exceptions. David Lynch does do some magical things in this movie visually, though(like the opening scene), which makes me wonder if he meant to give it that cheap porn movie feel. And, I honestly think he did. After all, Laura Dern's character goes by the name Nikki Grace - which even the NYtimes reviewer pointed out sounds like a porn star name. "Few are tastier or finally more terrible than the role of Nikki Grace, whose porn-star name suggests tacky self-invention and a straight-to-video career."
And the movie is peppered with prostitutes, talk of sex, a nice pair of bared breasts(not Laura's) and some sex. The casting also seems to play into that as well, specifically with the husband character looking a lot like a guy who might appear in a cheesy porn movie.
In any case, this movie is a stinker, marketed as an Indy art film. And, for all it's attempts at "darkness", this movie feels really gimmicky and stupid rather than sinister. I left angry and disappointed, and kept wishing David Lynch would die for making this movie. Perhaps that is a little harsh, but that doesn't change the fact that this movie is like eating shit - it's just wrong.