Inland Empire

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David Lynch's Inland Empire: The Dreamer is both Creator and Spectator.

“It was nonsense…” a phrase we often use to disparage a film we’ve had to sit through for one reason or another. We spit out the words vindictively, and with great relish, to berate the work in a vain attempt to distance ourselves from it, to somehow brush off the experience like some humiliating dandruff.

It was nonsense. Pure and utter nonsense. And if we’ve made a prior (severely limiting) decision both in life and art to seek and create sense in everything we experience, then the absence of sense signals the utmost waste of time, and hence the harshest verdict with which we would sentence a film.

David Lynch’s Inland Empire is nonsense…

… yet is the most eloquent, most profound, most deeply moving piece of nonsense I’ve experienced in a long while. And it has been an immense influence on my own work, before even seeing it. It is a case of, to quote some dialogue from the film, “not knowing if it came before or after.” And to quote another phrase someone dear and close to me used to describe one of my own recent films: “It is a beautiful mess.”

Film director, schizophrenic, lucid dreamer all have one thing in common: They live in a world of their own creation, both as objective observer of and subjective servant to that world. They are surprised by their own uncanny insight into their own minds, constantly shocked by what that incisive insight uncovers. This form of consciousness, and of creation, is literally like sticking one’s head up one’s asshole.

Through the peephole live a family of sitcom rabbits seen through a burn in a piece of fabric connecting the vagina with the intenstines, the sex with the shit. It is where babies live out their anal stage and where women’s insides glow with new life (or are eaten out by stillborn projects). And it is where the Inland Empire, that valley between the porn capital of the world and the mecca of glitz and glamor, spreads out, a sliver of space between nightmares and dreams. And it is where the space between self-loathing and self-realization expands and contracts, palpitating like a beating heart or a cervix or an act of intercourse.

Lynch’s Inland Empire contains all of his previous (and possibly future) films, all of his landscapes, soundscapes, mindscapes, escapes, his half-lives, and all of his archetypes: the woman in trouble, the harbinger, the greek chorus, the director, the absent father, the obnoxious mother, the doubles, the phones, the disconnected doors, the half-lit hallways and the horrifying beauty of it all.

It is three hours of enervating, unnerving, exhausting and exhaustive dream logic told from the point of view of the viewer himself, not the main character and certainly not the director. It is everything and nothing. It is sensual. It is sensitive. It is sensory. It is all forms of sense at once.

It is pure nonsense.

Directed by David LynchStarring  Laura DernJustin TherouxHarry Dean StantonGrace ZabriskieJeremy Irons and Diane Ladd.

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