Since Eraserhead I've always like Lynch's films even his Dune, that has been criticized a lot. I think in Dune there are many Lynch-like characters and I feel that even with the big budget and big studio system backing him he managed to do his own interpretation of the Sci-fi novel from Herbert. With Mulholland Dr. he brought one of the most avant-garde film to this day. David Lynch is more than a filmmaker; he is a visual artist who paints, produce music and makes his own special effects (read on Eraserhead).
He is deeply inspired by films like Tod Browning's Freaks, Fellini's Roma, Stanley Kubrick's Lolita, and the experimental films of Maya Deren. I also suspects that he is very influenced by Ingmar Bergman's Persona. By influenced I must say that he doesn't try to copy or redo them he's reinterpreting them with his unique style and approach to visual.
Inland Empire is a very interesting film that like all of the Lynch films I've seen (his only film I haven't seen is The Straight Story) is rich and dense in symbolism. This is the story of Nikki played by Laura Dern, an actress who got a role in a remake of an unfinished Polish film. With the production going by she begins to fall for her co-star (Justin Theroux). Then, Nikki is so much into the film that she no longer knows what is reality and what is the film. We follow her path throught the many levels of her descent into the film/her life/her head/ her subconscient.
I must warn that it is only for people advised and initiated to David Lynch's work, the images are unappealing on purpose and they are shot with numeric cameras that give an amateurish yet real feeling to them. The narrative is confusing and the film is so rich in symbolism that we could dissert every ten minutes of it with a 100 pages memoir. Lynch likes to trick your mind and Ingmar Bergman's Persona is never far from his stories. In Mulholland Dr. the two women projects and interchange their personalities. In Inland Empire it's Nikki who interchange her personality with her character in the movie and she can no longer know if she's in reality or not.
With Mulholland Dr. David Lynch elevated himself among the greatest filmmakers of all time. But with Inland Empire he elevated himself among the greatest visual artists of all time.
I must say that in the first half of it I did not liked the film very much but with the second half and the end I must say that he got me and I think it is one of the best films I've seen and probably one of Lynch's best, if not the best.
A Film Retrospective by Michaël Parent