Inland Empire - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Inland Empire Reviews

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½ February 12, 2019
Easily the most rewarding movie once you understand the circumstances haunting Laura Dern.
Worth every confusing minute.
November 12, 2018
Though this film requires the utmost patience and adoration for the very heart of David Lynch, indulging in its three-hour narrative leaves one with a profound sense of reward. Though inconclusive, it is satisfying. It is quite characteristic of Lynch to gratify an audience by testing the fringes of their imagination. Inland Empire will go down as one of the most candid projects of his career.
½ October 7, 2018
Terrible movie. Plain stupid filmaking, people seem to like it because of its "rarity".
½ October 5, 2018
I liked the rabbits. They were cute and scary.
½ September 15, 2018
A movie that apparently only Lynch can even begin to understand the meaning of, this is best watched with friends sympathetic to its stream-of-consciousness surrealism that can laugh at what's funny and work with you to decipher the multitude of repeated motifs and symbols.
September 4, 2018
Another Lynch movie that left me baffled and confused as to what I had just witnessed. Laura Dern gives a very committed performance in the lead.
½ August 11, 2018
I think this is probably the worst film l have ever seen and not in a good way like Plan 9. After about an hour there was a problem with the film and the lights came on. The audience started chatting and we started discussing whether we sit through the whole thing. I nearly made it but by that time the place was virtually deserted. Films are not just ideas- they have to have some coherence. I note David Lynch has not made another movie since this one. I can't imagine anyone would give him the money.
June 16, 2018
Burn a hole through the veil with a hot cigarette and peer through to the other side of love and despair.
June 14, 2018
an empire that builds itself up only to collapse..

Inland Empire

The depiction of the tale in here is more convoluted than the script, along with an eerie camera work which has always been the maker's window of luring the audience into its dark fictionalized world that actually resembles a lot to the practicality of it. It is rich on technical aspects like sound department, production design and its finely edited product that is perfectly cooked and served to the audience. The writer takes too much time to make its point in here which makes sense and feasible in here considering the outcome it provides the audience as they find themselves getting lost into the projected world very quickly. David Lynch is no short in execution as always and is supported well by an amazing cinematography that may be inedible for some viewers but surely is though-provoking and ground breaking. Laura Dern easily carries off the whole feature without breaking a sweat which proves her majestic acting skills and is supported decently by Jeremy Irons and Justin Theroux if not accurately apt for it. Inland Empire is an empire that builds itself up only to collapse on terms of its self-created restrained imaginative bubble that actually could have had wider range than was provided.
May 1, 2018
INLAND EMPIRE walks the same ground as "Lost Highway" or "Mulholland Drive", but, this time, offers no simple key to unlock it's labyrinthine narrative. On one hand, the film is harsher, nastier and more self-contained. On the other hand, it might turn out to be a more fascinating ride for a limited audience.

Being shot in digital, it is not as visually appealing as most of David Lynch's films are and, yet, in spite of some moments of annoying clumsiness, the digital environment offers a rather disturbing tone.

This film also channels the usual fantasy/reality Lynch blend into a different manner. One which doesn't prioritize layers. If in films such as Mulholland Dr. or Lost highway, one can get a sense of which layer is the main one(even if they do go hand in hand to develop a singurlar story), here, the layers are set side by side and it is very difficult to tell which one generated the other(s).

Having said this, I see INLAND EMPIRE as a chamber of mirrors in which the same image reflects in different ways.

Again, the different narratives make sense on their own and you can even tie them together. But you can do that in different ways and this one of the reasons for which INLAND EMPIRE is - or can be - confusing.

Also, INLAND EMPIRE features plenty of horror elements and some interesting Polish touches.

However, this David Lynch film has its share of minuses. First of all, the Laura Dern monologues become exhausting, after a certain point on. Yes, they are strongly acted, but they bring to little to the whole material. Also, INLAND EMPIRE is too fragmented for its own good and features too many self-contained scenes. Yes, this might have worked better had the film had not felt that short on narrative. Many of those scenes were, indeed, lovely, but in a film with so many layers, one might expect more narrative. And the most amusing thing is that some of the deleted scenes would have been very useful.

David Lynch relies alot on subtraction, but in INLAND EMPIRE too much has been subtracted, leaving a film that is interesting to watch and talk about, but that never seems to come out as a whole.

Overall, INLAND EMPIRE is ambitious, even if, sometimes, annoyingly self-referential, and provides Lynch fans plenty of things to chew on, but, on the other hand, it doesn't have the impact of some of Lynch's previous offerings.

I can't make up my mind on whether this film is an interesting failure or a good experimental flick with some minuses, but somehow, it works the same way.

I am giving this 3 out of 5, but only because RT "insists" on this, because I don't think a rating system applies this David Lynch flick.
Super Reviewer
March 31, 2018
If Lynch has really committed himself to no longer making films (his return to "Twin Peaks" on television notwithstanding), then he really couldn't make a grand finale better than "Inland Empire" which really feels like the culmination of all the themes he explored over the years. It should also be noted that Dern is incredible here, always committed and believable regardless of what is happening on screen.
March 27, 2018
Watching this is an experience. A very long movie that requires your full attention and an open mind. I needed to sit down and really think about how all of the scenes are connected to one another, but even before fully understanding I found it very enjoyable to watch. It is a weird, trippy ride for your senses and you'll come out of it feeling as though you watched something you will never encounter again. I also loved the subtle creepy vibe throughout. This was definitely a phenomenal film.
½ March 8, 2018
I've watched great movies, and terrible movies. This was literally about the only movie I have ever returned to the rental place unwatched (I think we made it about 5-10 minutes in before we looked at each other and just went "No." and turned it off), and asked for a refund and a different movie. I love a good [reasonably coherent] "bad" movie. This, however, was simply unwatchable...
½ December 26, 2017


[David Lynch]
½ November 14, 2017
Craziest Lynch Movie
July 25, 2017
sometimes in the life of a woman there is somthing wrong even if all the appearance is OK. what is it? where did it come from?
some stories are going to be publicized in the cinema or in novels, and they are in some way spoilers of the wrong things that are going on, and they remain unresolved for long long time, even because there is no one undestanding what was really going on.
so, something really bad happens and no one can explain why, but it happens when that old story is on play.
until someone goes deep in the INLAND EMPIRE and faces what is really going on in everyday life and in the same time, in that story.
½ June 30, 2017
Not my favorite work from Lynch. But I did still appreciate it a lot. The whole movie feels like you're trapped in someone's nightmare. The forboding, uneasy atmosphere is relentless and once you break down what everything means, it's just so brilliant. So David Lynch. I hope he keeps making movies because no one else can come close to Lynch's art.
Super Reviewer
½ June 6, 2017
"A dream of dark and troubling things" is how Lynch himself described his directorial debut Eraserhead in 1977. It's fitting them that his first and (so far) last film share similarities with this description. In fact, this is probably the most coherent thing you can take from INLAND EMPIRE (Lynch insists the title is capitalised). Even the marketing executives had no idea how to promote the film and, in the end, decided to punt it with the most basic of taglines: A woman in trouble. The rest is basically up the individual viewer. But make no mistake, INLAND EMPIRE lands you squarely in Lynchland.

Plot: After taking the lead in a new movie "On High in Blue Tomorrow's", Hollywood star Nikki Grace (Laura Dern) learns the script was actually filmed once before as a Polish film named "47". Her director (Jeremy Irons) informs her that the film may have been cursed as it was based on an old Gypsy folktale and led to the murder of its previous actors. Believing this to be true, Nikki's imagination takes over as she struggles with her own identity and unable to tell the difference between her new role and reality.

Known for his inventiveness and wicked sense of humour, there was a time, in Lynch's career that he adopted a particular approach to his storytelling that involved surrealism and dream logic. These approaches initially featured sparingly but they arguably became more prominent with Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me or, to a greater extent, Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive with particular attention to symbolism and metamorphosis. INLAND EMPIRE has much in common with the latter two and as difficult and perplexing as these films were, they still had answers to be found within - with some effort, their puzzles could be solved. INLAND EMPIRE, on the other hand, is a very different beast and probably the most challenging film in Lynch's oeuvre. I have to put my hands up and admit defeat. I couldn't entirely grasp what Lynch was going for here. I have ideas but eventually I had to make peace with the film and just go along with the mystery and the confusion and revel in Lynch's mastery at mood and composition.

At 3 hours long it's quite the commitment and demands the utmost concentration. This is an unforgiving film experience that will not accept anything less than a viewers full commitment and if you're not up for that, then forget it. I'd also add that this is a film that's strictly for Lynch enthusiasts. Naysayers and doubters need not apply.

Lynch's decision to shoot in low-grade digital video may put many viewers off and it has often been said that the film isn't aesthetically pleasing. It can often look grainy and out of focus but, personally, I thought his intention here was a masterstroke. It allows him to utilise his low-lighting mood and gives the film a more personal vibe with the events and characters feeling much more authentic. So much so, that it only adds to what is already a deeply disturbing and unsettling experience.

It's been admitted by Lynch that he began this movie as an experiment and over the period of three years he would film certain scenes and images before constructing a narrative. Shooting began when he didn't have a script in place but the more he shot, the more the film grew and his ideas merged into something. Many, if not all, viewers will still wonder what he has came up with as this is a film that's so abstract and surreal that it could easily be written off as self-indulgent and pretentious. You could also say, that certain scenes and events don't make sense at all and Lynch is throwing what he can at the screen just to see what sticks. There's no doubt that it's a difficult film to determine meaning from but I also find it difficult to accept that it's accidental. There's a spiritual and existential angle to the film which may or may not be about our main character being in a state of purgatory and going through some form of spiritual cleansing. There's a central theme that can just about be grasped but trying to make sense of the Rabbits sitcom (with out-of-synch laugh tracks), the prostitutes dancing The Locomotion or crazy clown faces are just some of the more bizarre inclusions.

The first hour is actually fairly coherent and easy to follow but it's in the second third that the narrative changes perspective and, quite frankly, baffles the shit the out of you. It's very difficult to keep up but this is because the time frame and the characters shift and you're left unsure as to what and whom is doing what and unable to tell the difference between fantasy and reality. At one point Dern even utters the words... "I don't know what was before or after. I don't know what happened first and it's kinda laid a mindfuck on me". Not only will you identify with this feeling but it's a reminder on how the film should be viewed. Any chance of piecing the mystery together has to be done by shuffling the events and characters and approaching the film from a non-linear perspective.

Lynch has often toyed with alternate realities, dream states and doppelgänger's and INLAND EMPIRE feels very much like the evil twin to Mulholland Drive. They share similar themes and commentaries on the nature of Hollywood and stardom but for as dark and disturbing as Mulholland Drive was, INLAND EMPIRE takes it much further. This is a truly nightmarish depiction of fractured psyche's and shattered dreams.

Like Naomi Watts in Mulholland Drive, Laura Dern is front and centre and delivers an outstanding central performance. This an actress I've had a few questions about over time but there really isn't any fault in her superlative work here. She has to play around with several roles and she's entirely committed and convincing in all of them. That said, even Dern and the rest of the cast admitted that they had no idea what the film itself is about. Maybe that's the point. Lynch did, after all, admit that it was an experiment and maybe the fault lies with the viewer for thinking otherwise. In this case, I just accepted the journey as the reward.

One of the most challenging and exhausting films I've ever seen. Whether or not you make sense of it, doesn't take away from the fact that you've witnessed an artist at work and been thrust into an intriguing mystery that has the utmost refusal to be solved. If this proves to be Lynch's last film (and I sincerely hope it's not) then he bows out with the ultimate head-fuck. He's most definitely an acquired taste. If you don't like him?... You should acquire some taste.

Mark Walker
May 26, 2017
Synopsis is futile.

Yes, since Eraserhead David Lynch had been pushing the narrative and formal boundaries of film language, and even if he has classics under his belt like Blue Velvet and Mulholland Dr., or overlooked gems like Wild at Heart and Lost Highway, Inland Empire still feels as his cinematic testament. I'm not saying it is "better", just that it feels as the most pure representation of his artistic voice.

Inland Empire is a meditation on the medium itself, a deconstruction of identity and art. It is Lynch's Persona or 8 1/2 or The Holy Mountain, not only for the clear self-refleciton that permeates the film, but also because, in the vein of those classics, it is his most vulnerable and disjointed. Virtually indecipherable on a narrative level and overwhelming on a sensory level.

You can build academic works around the use of the digital format and its significance as a distancing element from the "cinematic feel", or about the correlation between his Rabbits characters and the polish sequences. Essays can be written about that enthralling credits sequence. Lynch's celebration of his art, brought to new dimension after his reveal that he is no longer making movies. But all of that would be making a disservice to Inland Empire. Trying to explain the unexplainable. Putting to paper the intangible.

Watching this film feels like the Club Silencio sequence in Mulholland Dr., when one is totally enthralled not by the fact that everything is an illusion, but for the fact that the illusion is so powerful the boundaries become indistinguishable. All that is left to do is to look through, all the way through, until you find yourself falling through the hole and into the shifting patterns you see on the other side.
April 2, 2017
Some of Lynch's movies (Mulholland Drive) are more fun to try to figure out than others (this one). But it's still visually mesmerizing, and Laura Dern is pretty amazing.
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