Inland Empire – FELIX, Victor

This would handily be the strangest film I have ever seen. The amount of scenes spliced together is innumerable and seemingly disjointed, as if they were illogically positioned (of course, this is not the case: I am sure David Lynch was deliberate in their arrangement). The dialogue did not help, either, in connecting the scenes. There is, however, still a sense of narrative progression all throughout the movie. It was also not too difficult to pinpoint the major themes the film tries to address. I noted that it dealt with marriage, infidelity, fantasy, prostitution, curses, revisiting the past, and suffering.
The scene at the start with the old Polish woman helped a little in watching the film. She recounted two parables: “A little boy went out to play. When he opened his door, he saw the world. As he passed through the doorway, he caused a reflection. Evil was born. Evil was born, and followed the boy.” and “A little girl went out to play. Lost in the marketplace, as if half-born. Then, not through the marketplace – you see that, don’t you? – but through the alley behind the marketplace. This is the way to the palace.” I understood the first one to mean a pseudo-warning: a man that reflects the world becomes evil, or a man that is of the world is evil. The Bible teaches us that goodness cannot come out of worldliness, or that one must choose between either the world or God. The second parable, on the other hand, I could not put my finger on. Possibly, it suggests that the market is a consumerist lifestyle and that one cannot be fully human, or be fully born, if one is lost in the marketplace. This is reinforced whenever the film repeats that living in the future results in forgetting one’s past troubles or debts. The alley behind the market place could suggest a path that transcends the consumerist lifestyle, and so it leads to the palace.
From the blog of Patrick Meaney, I was able to understand the film better. He asserts that the woman who is watching the television is actually the actress in the first making of the film, where the curse supposedly started. This makes sense because later on in the film, she is shown to be reunited with a man and a boy, suggesting that this is her husband who might have been murdered. Also, the character of Nikki is seen at one point to be kissing the girl, suggesting that they have both experienced the same thing and are of mutual understanding.
I really enjoyed the layers of the film, albeit I didn’t come to a full understanding of it. The scenes which meld Blue Tomorrows with the life of Nikki, or in other words when the audience isn’t sure whether or not Laura Dern is Sue or Nikki, was very perplexing. Also, whenever the film parallels the crying girl in the room with Sue/Nikki it was also equally puzzling. Lastly, the character of the Phantom, pulling the strings and orchestrating Nikki’s troubles, revealing himself in the different worlds presented in the film, surely left the viewer in shambles.
The scenes with the rabbits were a recurring motif in the film. Again, from Patrick’s blog, I found out that the male rabbit which leaves the room is actually the husband of Nikki and that the two other female rabbits are Nikki and the crying girl. Additionally, it is only the male rabbit that can leave the room, reinforcing the sense of imprisonment of the two female characters. From what I was feeling at the time, I understood the rabbits to be a symbolism for the whole film, in that Nikki was falling into a rabbit hole like in Alice in Wonderland or The Matrix, and that she was in for a wild ride. Well, true enough, my expectations were realized.
The film, and I think that most of the class would agree with me, contained the funniest scene this semester. Of course, I am referring to the scene with the three homeless people (a pleasant surprise when I saw Terry Crews’ cameo!) watching Sue die a slow and painful death. I think what made it so humorous was its juxtaposition to the earlier scenes, and the film’s lack of blatant humor up until that point. Honestly, any humor at any point in the film would have been much appreciated; it is good to see that David Lynch had the foresight to place this scene in response to the possible expectations of the viewer.
I would say that I wouldn’t watch the film anytime soon, but I would certainly watch it again, considering I have stockpiled a few answers to some questions I had in the first viewing. I actually found the film to be a good one, once I understood it. The triumphant look on Nikki’s face at the end, wherein she stares at the old Polish lady after her victory over the almost-incessant torment, was just priceless. In its entirety, I didn’t find the film to be a bad LSD trip but rather a severe nightmare wherein when you wake up you realize you are safe and sound. It wasn’t just a wild ride for the character of Nikki, but for the audience also. It was visually stunning: there are scenes which I will remember for a very long time like the Phantom getting shot, the Rabbits in the living room, and when Nikki looks through the hole in the silk. To this day, I am at disbelief to what I witnessed. Honestly, there isn’t a film like it.

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