Inland Empire - How Many Hallways Must a Man Walk Down?

Duration: 172min
Category: suspense
Available: On DVD
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I love David Lynch. Heís one of the only film makers whose work scares me. I also enjoy the mental games he presents. Watching how he transformed Mullholland Drive from quirky and mysterious television pilot into disturbing comment on the destruction of the Hollywood dream was brilliant. However, there are times when he infuriates me and Inland Empire is one of those times.

Every now and then he does something that is more about style than substance. Itís like heís experimenting with form at the expense of content. While I love most of his work, I am adamant in my dislike and disapproval of Eraser Head. While I canít say I disliked Inland Empire, I can certainly say I donít approve.

Inland Empire has about 50 minutes of really satisfying, really interesting stuff. There are scenes here which, in a better movie, would have been fascinating. There is a moment on Hollywood Boulevard which is mesmerizing. However, the frustrating part of Inland Empire is how often he squanders these moments by losing them amongst a bunch of empty scenes.

The best example of the emptiness of Inland Empire is the scenes of the bunny sitcomÖ for lack of a better description. There is something inherently creepy about these moments but he lets that slip away in the monotony of it all. He imbues the scenes with nothingness, meaningless dialogue, long absent pauses, repetitive motions and a lack of connection to whatever else is going on. Sure it sounds like an interesting idea but in execution it falls flat.

Also, Lynch seems to be trying something out. He didnít use a cinematographer, he shot the thing in digital video and honestly, the film doesnít look like it was ever lit with anything but lamps on the sets. Inland Empire is a bit of an eyesore. Itís rarely pleasing to watch, especially with the face-in-the-camera shots which I can only imagine he does in an attempt to ape amateur video. Whatever it is he is trying doesnít seem to work.

I also think it was a mistake to give a brief attempt at plot for the first third of the film and then just abandon it all together. At that point Inland Empire becomes a montage of unconnected random images linked together by people walking down hallways. There are a lot of people walking down hallways. Inland Empire could have used a great deal fewer moments of walking down hallways. Poorly lit hallways at that. Not only did Lynch decide not to use a cinematographer or a lighting guy, it also appears he decided not to use an editor.

I will give Inland Empire one more real than it probably deserves because there are about 50 minutes of the film that did have me quite intrigued. There are moments in here that remind me what an innovative story teller Lynch can be. However he also made me sit through 120 minutes of self-indulgence and I can never get that back.

Review By: Collin Smith

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