Monday, July 23, 2007

Inland Empire: Lynch Unfortunately Overdoes it

Truffaut during his carrier as a film critic used to say that the worst film of a director auteur has more worth than the best film of a simple director. This phrase reflects completely my feeling for Lynch’s latest film.
Inland Empire has no plot and no characters. The film begins with a simulation of a story line. A strange woman visits a Hollywood star –Laura Dern- and tries to warn her against participating in a horror film. The last time the film was produced the main actress died. The spectator watches scenes form the “real” life of the actress, from the film that is being filmed and some scenes from a parallel universe where Laura Dern is a completely different person? Everything is mingled together and the spectator can scarcely tell which scenes belong to which story line. Time continuance and perception of space collapse completely. Several scenes are presented two times from a completely different point of view. The first time this happens one can suppose that he\she is witnessing a kind of vision of the vision that Laura Dern has. Lter on though even this assumption proves without ground because not only do we go back to a past scene but Laura Dern is presented at the same time and space simultaneously as two different but the same persons. The last half hour of the film resists even to this weak effort of explaining and describing. Time goes back and forth becoming completely irrelevant while laura Dern mostly and other characters multiply and become two or three different person simultaneously.
In Inland Empire Lynch continues his philosophical line of thought that started with hinted clues at Twin Peaks and revealed it self more strongly at Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive. He chooses to question our well built and standardized perception of time, space and identity competing with some of the most radical ideas in postmodern science and philosophy. In the Western logic time has been conceived as straightforward and linear. Space as something that can easily be determined and understood. And Personal identity as something solid, unified and unchangeable though the years. Lynch however has been wondering if time is not linear will our perception of space and identity collapse? In Lost Highway time forms a 8 and every actor seems to be two person at the same space. In Mulholland Dr. things get more complicated as time follows no specific course but is fragmented. As a result every actor in the film is two completely different personalities. In Mulholland Drive though the director has hidden carefully some signs and links between the scenes, that a very film educated careful and suspicious spectator can discover and recreate the somewhat linear plot. Still there are some scenes in this film that are floating around more or less unconnected to the central branch of the story.
In the Inland Empire there aren’t any connections, keys or links that can lead someone to the reconstruction of the film. Lynch didn’t bother to create any because he didn’t wish his spectators to be able to follow or make sense of the time, the space and the characters of the film. He wished to show an environment with no linear time, no specific space and no stable characters. Everything is disconnected and fluid. West thinkers used to think that reality is objective, stable and rigid. Lynch provokes us to accept a world where nothing is certain. In Existenz Cronenberg’s main character Allegra says something like that: while people could do so much are programmed to accept so little. When everything is rigidly pre-conceived possibility lessens and freedom diminishes in already given choices. In a fluid universe more is possible.
The problem with Inland Empire is that is so… so difficult and incomprehensible that appalls not only the spectator but also the Lynch fanatics. The director has kept the intensity of his ideas and the sticking intensity of the sensations he amazingly manages to create form unconnected images and sound and has stripped them from the ruse of a myth. It is some like cruel experimental art that hasn’t found its balance yet. It is a raw material with its ingenuity intact but its form is well…unformed. Inland Empire should be a film of maturity well all his previous ideas should be there but balanced to a well though planned form. On the contrary Inland Empire is a film of puberty. Full of power and unfulfilled expectations.