Inland Empire – DVD Review

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David Lynch


Laura Dern……….Nikki Grace/Susan Blue
Jeremy Irons……….Kingsley Stewart
Justin Theroux……….Devon Berk/Billy Side
Harry Dean Stanton……….Freddie Howard
Peter J. Lucas……….Piotrek Król
Karolina Gruszka……….Lost Girl
Jan Hencz……….Janek
Krzysztof Majchrzak……….Phantom

The Movie

To try and describe Inland Empire would take almost as long as the film’s near three hour running time. Featuring the tale of Nikki Grace (Laura Dern), a once popular actress trying to make a comeback via the remake of a foreign film cursed in production and never finished, David Lynch’s latest effort is an attempt to turn a number of smaller bits of film into one coherent film and fails quite miserably because the film has no focus or coherent narrative.

The film in many ways resembles an experimental student film more than an actual film made by a studio because of how different Lynch goes with the tone. Since he wasn’t working with a script a lot of the film feels awkward to watch because Lynch decides to make the film weird early and often. If one can’t make it good one should go weird, one can suppose, if only because then the lack of a story or anything else but atmosphere in order to cover it up.

It also reeks of atmosphere in the same way Mulholland Drive, Lynch’s other major work, did while functioning with the same flaws as well. This is a film that’s visually arresting as the film looks poor and amateurish on purpose; there are a lot of quick cuts and edits that make the film a bit of a jumbled mess on occasion. The script is literally non-existent, therefore the film has no real way to find itself and become something special. While it has some interesting choices for music, and a terrific score, its lack of any sort of narrative just makes it seem like a three hour NYU entry into the Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmaker’s Contest as opposed to an actual movie.

Inland Empire also veers off into the absurd much more than it should and dabbles on the line between absurdity and normalcy plenty of times. There’s maybe 90 good minutes of focused narrative in the film and Lynch pads it off with dance sequences to songs like “The Locomotion” and has a seemingly obligatory topless scene from a nubile woman to justify the “R” rating for more than the gratuitous amounts of profanity. It’s excessively long and excessively bad for so long it ranks amongst the worst of the year.


Presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 format in a widescreen presentation, complete with 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the film does have a good transfer but a rather lackluster audio component. While it utilizes the system effectively, the audio itself is rather soft and one needs to turn up any reasonable surround sound to higher than normal levels to achieve a median level of sound. The video level is much stronger but is low quality on purpose. It’s good-looking despite the film’s intentional low-budget look.

The Extras

Lynch 2 follows behind the scenes of Inland Empire with David Lynch as he sets up scenes, et al. Without any sort of narrative, it’s interesting to see Lynch at work with his cast and crew. It’s interesting to see him at work, admittedly, but the piece has a decidedly lack of a narrative that hurts it. There are some title cards to dictate some things, but the piece largely wanders in and out with no perspective. It runs about 30 minutes, giving us an extended look at the creative process.

More Things That Happened is the deleted scenes and material from the film. This isn’t the standard 10 minutes of bad stuff; Lynch has 90 minutes worth of material he didn’t use, almost an entire feature in and of itself.

There are some rather unique features on the second disc as well. Ballerina is a twelve minute piece featuring interesting camera work, a fog machine and a ballerina dancing, while Stories is a feature with Lynch telling stories. There is a Stills Gallery as well as all three of the film’s Theatrical Trailers, as well as a short feature with David Lynch cooking Quinoa.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Inland Empire
(OUT OF 10)