Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

About 10 years ago I thought that it would be a terrific idea to shoot a movie that deliberately made absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Well obviously, I shouldn't have dragged my feet. Now that I've seen Inland Empire, I know that David Lynch has beaten me to it.

I mean just look at that quote on the DVD cover above from Jonathan Ross: "Bold and distinctive... a work of genius." Really? Genius?

I'm certainly not going to disagree with that. For me, this film was three hours of debating whether:

a. there was a tremendous intelligence at work here, far more cerebral and clever than my lowly brain, or

b. the script, direction and editing were in fact just any old thing.

It probably didn't help that, before starting, I foolishly went into the audio setup and turned-off the English subtitles. I must have been a full hour in when I realised that a great deal of this film is in Polish. Maybe that was a mercy – how much less sense might the foreign dialogue have actually made? As little as the stuff in English?

Inland Empire is a bit like The Star Wars Holiday Special, in that it goads you into sitting through the whole thing like some sort of cinematic endurance test. Even this DVD release has brutally denied the viewer a wimpy Scene-Selection option. Nope, ha ha, you just have to start from the beginning. Every. Single. Time.


But while this movie can be boring, slow, clumsily filmed and awkwardly performed (many of the actors seem as unsure of themselves as I was), for all that, the film itself's conviction is stunning. Lynch coolly cuts from one scene, location, inanimate object or language to another, without ever attempting to spoon-feed the viewer. His range of imagery and juxtaposition of time and context make this one film that you really have to relax and make time for.

Bits of it are disturbing, none of it is funny, and everything, absolutely everything, has you clawing to create some sort of order out of events. When Jeremy Irons shows up as a film-director, things actually seem to progress in some sort of linear fashion for a while, but never enough that I could trust the characters not to suddenly start speaking apparent nonsense.

So - genius, or rubbish?

Well, I'm not intelligent enough to recognise genius, but neither, hopefully, am I cruel enough to whinge rubbish without any opinion on why I don't get it.

After it had finally finished, I must admit that I had thoroughly enjoyed the last 180 minutes.

But I only have theories about what was going on.

NB. According to Wikipedia, Jonathan Ross actually said "a work of genius... I think."


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