David Lynch's Inland Empire is a boring, excessive, abstract piece of filmmaking that falls far short of nearly all the films this acclaimed director previously released. For those that didn't know, Lynch's early films are filled with extraordinary vision and depth. Most importantly, he simply has a knack for spinning a good tale. His early body of work scans the top ten lists of many film critics and I would say most of Lynch's work easily stands the test of time. As an adolescent, I clearly remember Blue Velvet burning a diabolical image of madness and suburban decay on my young, impressionable mind. This film had Dennis Hopper raving and raging like a lunatic in a tale of ordinary madness; however, what Lynch achieved was to seamlessly take the audience from the probable to the insane while keeping true to a simple tale of crime and narcotics. Inland Empire has none of these qualities. It's weird without the story; bizarre for the sake of being bizarre; bad for the sake of art. But what is truly upsetting is the way in which Lynch can still create frightening and compelling segments for moments and then abandon them for more bizarre, unconnected weirdness without batting an eye.
Inland Empire's problem, as one fellow put it while exiting the theater, is that it is 'an abstract story viewed through an abstract lens'. That's putting it kindly. It's a maze of images with no connection. Screams and shadows and DV shot close-ups that do nothing to progress the story. It slowly begins with some decent acting by Laura Dern, an actress on what seems to be the last legs of her career. She lands a big role on a film you later find out is 'cursed.' Jeremy Irons is her directer. His role is good. His acting fair and at that point the film is coherent and plausible. Unfortunately, from that point on Lynch takes us through a myriad of peaks and valleys, none of which seem to relate to the story and most of which detract and blur what could be interesting scenes. Throughout the film you get glimpses of a screwdriver impaling someone's abdomen, some girls sitting in a living room dancing and showing each other their breasts that offer no real anchor for the story. Then there is the strange busybody neighbor that knows more than she's letting on which inexplicably jumps to a sit-com about humans with rabbit heads. There you go. Simply put, the tale is one of madness and psychosis that isn't really about anyone or anything in particular but that you can only assume relates in Lynch's twisted world, unfortunately, I am not as advanced as Lynch.
After about two hours, the plot painfully meanders towards connecting Eastern Europe to this tale and adds in bits about Pomona' and the Inland Empire. But after two hours and twenty minutes I called it quits and walked out, not really mad just disappointed. The film looked good for being shot on a consumer DV camera and as I mentioned, Lynch can still create scenes of fear and mystery that leave one feeling a bit frightened. But all that still can't compensate for a vapid story. I suggest you save the 10 bucks and buy Blue Velvet instead.