As if Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive melded together and birthed a rabbit-headed Polish baby with a penchant for industrialised zones and the murky unknown. Perhaps Lynch's most cryptic outing as a director, Inland Empire is a shot-on-miniDV mixture of old and new ground - similar themes from films past, present themselves along a path that is distinctly non-linear; one that is experimental.
An actress wins a role on a cursed film - one that was already abandoned once before when titled 4-7 - and soon finds her sense of reality breaking down. She inverts on her own life, confuses her past and present, becomes more than one version of herself (and possibly so for the character she is playing in the film), and goes through a protracted and twisted nightmare ... most specifically during the middle-hour of this three-hour journey.
By comparison, Mulholland Drive is a relatively straight-forward tale told in an unusual way ... although I think that could be said of Lynch's work in general - to an extent - in that, perhaps, his work appears to be more weird because of Lynch's particularly unique outlook and approach to his art. The central mystery of Mulholland Drive was the unravelling of a dream ... meanwhile Inland Empire is an altogether different beast. Lynch's experience making the film was one of discovery as he himself has stated - it began as one thing and developed over time into a whole other thing. Disparate scenes and ideas slowly and intricately began to fuse together to form an extremely complex whole.
To understand the whole film would be to miss the point - the mystery is the journey and the journey is the mystery - indeed, quite possibly, Inland Empire might be impossible to understand in its entirety. There is most definitely a plot snaking around the non-linear pacing of the scenes, and each viewer will grasp onto certain themes and images in their own way, and as such this is quite possibly Lynch's most interpretable film to date.
Red lamps, strobe lighting, doorways, nightmares, dreams, alternate/inverted realities, multiple personalities/identities, curious and threatening figures, the dark underbellies of seemingly stable lives and situations ... all are combined throughout this curious, enchanting, haunting, disturbing, unsettling, experimental digital world.
Shot during the production of Inland Empire, this documentary follows filmmaker David Lynch around in his life. Pockets of stories are left scattered around the running time like discarded cigarette butts on Lynch's office floor; snippets of behind-the-scenes moments from the making of Lynch's most recent film are diced between photography sessions in abandoned factories, one-sided phone calls, and the bookends of various unidentified moments. For Lynch fans, it's well worth checking out - it's a window into the world of Lynch; simultaneously strange and straight-forward.