What You Need To Know:
INLAND EMPIRE is a virtually incomprehensible, fevered dream of a movie. Trying to decipher this movie is like trying to decipher James Joyce's FINNEGAN'S WAKE, and probably not as interesting. Mostly, INLAND EMPIRE seems to be about the plight, joys, dreams, and nightmares of the female species. The scenes are so jumbled up and bizarre, however, that the premise and the plot are practically non-existent.
(H, Fe, LLL, VV, S, NN, AA, DD, M) An incomprehensible humanist worldview, perhaps even nihilistic, with some possible feminist elements; at least 75 obscenities, three strong profanities, three light profanities, and dying woman spits up blood; brief strong violence includes woman stabbed with screwdriver, stabbed woman bleeds to death, stabbed woman spits up blood, man shot, woman shot, man shoves woman around, woman has bruises on her face and talks of fighting off man, threats of violence, and many scenes of scary foreboding; implied adultery with couple in bed and prostitutes and streetwalkers appear in scenes; upper female nudity as one prostitute brags about her breasts to other prostitutes sitting in a room, and scantily clad streetwalkers; alcohol use and drunkenness; smoking and brief talk about drug use; and, woman rudely pries into another woman's life.
INLAND EMPIRE is a virtually incomprehensible, fevered dream of a movie. Trying to decipher this movie is like trying to decipher James Joyce’s FINNEGAN’S WAKE, and probably not as interesting.
Laura Dern stars in the movie as an actress waiting to get a part in a movie. Her new neighbor, a middle-aged woman of Polish or Eastern European extraction, barges in to introduce herself and tells the actress that she will get the part. The woman’s words become more and more disturbing and incomprehensible, however.
Sure enough, the actress gets the part and starts rehearsals with her director and her co-star. From that moment, the movie jumps back and forth between bizarre dreams in which the actress and her character participate and scenes from the movie being shot. The movie within the movie and the dreams seem to focus on three characters: a woman having an adulterous affair with a married man, a woman married to a shady Eastern European immigrant, and a prostitute on Hollywood Blvd., all played by Laura Dern’s actress character. As in a dream, characters seem to merge and separate according to whim.
To show how bizarre some of the apparent dreams in this movie are, the most bizarre dream sequences focus on three characters with the heads of rabbits and dressed in human clothes who iron clothes, walk around, read, or sit on couches. These scenes contain no apparent dialogue from the human-sized rabbits and make no sense in relation to the rest of the movie.
Mostly, INLAND EMPIRE seems to be about the plight, joys, dreams, and nightmares of the female species. The scenes are so jumbled up and bizarre, however, and the characters so sketchy, that the premise of the movie is virtually non-existent. The director, David Lynch, seems to be too fascinated by his own obscurity and cleverness. What’s even worse, he extends the movie to nearly three hours long.