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David Lynch’s Cryptic, Frustrating, Mesmerizing “Inland Empire”

David Lynch's Cryptic, Frustrating, Mesmerizing "Inland Empire"

Already being hailed as David Lynch‘s “most experimental feature since “Eraserhead,” fans of “Lost Highway” and “Mullholland Drive” will see something familiar as Lynch’s “Inland Empire” abandons a linear storyline in favor of an initial plot setup that morphs into a series of hallucinatory repetitions, creepy aural montages, dopplegangers and bizarre sequences involving rabbits. (Check out the above YouTube clip for “Rabbits,” the web only series that Lynch created and uses clips from for “Inland Empire.”)

The reaction to “Inland Empire” at the New York Film Festival on Friday reminded me of a screening of “Lost Highway” that I attended several years ago at the Museum of Moving Image where afterwards David Lynch had a Q&A with a somewhat underwhelmed audience. The first question asked was, “What was that?” Lynch promptly responded, “That was ‘Lost Highway.'” This was obviously a fan of Lynch’s more literal works “Twin Peaks,” “Blue Velvet” and “Wild at Heart,” which all had surrealistic, hallucinatory tendancies but always brought the viewer back to shore at the end.

In “Inland Empire, “Lynch leaves the viewer far out at sea. As an actress (Laura Dern) is sucked into a strange dark version of Hollywood, she finds herself consumed in a role, a romance, and a mystery of what is reality and what is dream. Dern spents a lot of time in the film reacting to the bizarre situations that are happening around her, and in a way reflects the way viewers will feel as they watch the three hour film.

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