Inland Empire (2006) — Review

Inland Empire (2006) directed by David Lynch, starring Laura Dern, Justin Theroux, Harry Dean Stanton, Grace Zabriskie, Jeremy Irons and Diane Ladd.

I feel like I didn’t watch this, I survived it. I have no idea what’s going on. I have an idea the whole thing may be a sort of near-death hallucination, but that doesn’t even begin to explain it. One of the common interpretations of Mulholland Drive is that the whole story is a fantasy in the mind of a woman in the process of killing herself. Very The Incident at Owl Creek Bridge. The same could be an explanation for this movie, but it’s more confused than that.

Mulholland Drive has two levels, basically, but Inland Empire has many more. If it’s a fantasy, or the brain’s last gasp before dying, it is unclear which variation of reality is the “real” one. Is it the homeless woman bleeding out in the alleyway? She seems the most likely candidate, but it doesn’t quite fit.

This movie is like a math equation where the parentheses are miss-nested, and the levels get confused with one another. Or a bit of HTML with the <open> and </close> tags are paired wrong. The levels bleed through — and not just when you look through a cigarette-burn hole in a piece of silk, and not just when you dream.

There is time travel in this, too, somehow. The woman near the beginning who says “Brutal Fucking Murder” in one of the previous screenshots even sets the movie up, saying she gets confused between yesterday and tomorrow. Laura Dern’s character seems to flip beck and forth, and in and out of the movie world, and, I suspect, is also one of the Rabbits,  who, I suspect, are dead people waiting in limbo for something. Godot, perhaps.

Lynch’s red curtains play a role, so otherworld influence is almost certain. Maybe it all makes sense if folded properly, like the fold-in pictures on the back of Mad Magazine. Only, folded through many more dimensions, within the space of the White Lodge.

This is Scix in the Back Row, making this face: