There are some things in this world I have trouble understanding.
1) Why are receptionist’s boyfriends always called Darren?
2) If ‘opposites attract’ how come I don’t see any millionaires dating the homeless?
3) Why is the first thing people say when they see kids fall over, cut themselves and start crying ‘are you alright?’
A definite entry into this category is the work of David Lynch. His latest offering, Inland Empire, is a story set around a mock movie in production about an old Polish folktale. The film preys on the Hollywood actress chosen as the story's lead, detailing how her life and state of mind seem to become more erratic in light of the revelation that the folktale is cursed. As the film progresses, the production is blighted by an affair between the actress (Nikki) and her co-star (Devon). It is from this point on that Lynch blurs the boundary between what is happening in reality, and what ‘may be’ the effect of the curse on those involved. Nikki descends into a nightmarish cycle as the curse takes its hold.
The mastery of Lynch’s work is that they are adjective-proof. One really experiences a Lynch film, so trying to describe it is like trying to describe the colour red to someone who has been blind since birth. The best word I can think of to describe Inland Empire is ‘woozy’. For those of you who have ever had an operation in hospital, the film feels like that half an hour after you have woken up from the anaesthetic, when your eyes are open but you are far from conscious. In keeping with Lynch’s penchant for the edgy, queasy avant-garde, Inland Empire is shot entirely on digital camcorders - the sort freely available from the high street. This works to give the movie a visceral, unpolished effect that both increases the realism of the film, yet makes this reality far more uncomfortably real as well.
Trying to ascertain if you would like this film is just as difficult as describing it. As with all provocative art, Inland Empire will split you down the middle. Part of you may think it's genius, part may think it's pretentious nonsense; however, all of you will be provoked into reaction and self-reflection, as is Lynch's trademark. If you want your mind expanded without the use of illegal substances, watch Inland Empire. Or should I say endure it? You don’t so much watch a Lynch film as survive it. If you can endure this film, then you will be the better for it.