Review: Under the Silver Lake (2018)


Under the Silver Lake (2018)

Directed by: David Robert Mitchell | 139 minutes | comedy, crime | Actors: Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, Topher Grace, Jimmi Simpson, Zosia Mamet, Callie Hernandez, Riki Lindhome, Summer Bishil, Grace Van Patten, Patrick Fischler, Luke Baines, Laura-Leigh Claire

Sam (Andrew Garfield) is walking through Los Angeles at night when a skunk suddenly drops dead in front of him. It is the starting signal for a series of bizarre events that befall the main character. After spying on a young woman (Riley Keough) at the pool, the two come into contact. A day later, however, this Sarah appears to have disappeared from the face of the earth. What follows is a complicated quest for Sarah’s fate, in which Sam slowly comes to believe in the existence of hidden messages and codes, fueled by a conspiracy theorist (played by the almost incarnate strangeness Patrick Fischler, from ‘Mulholland Drive’, among others). And then there is a dog killer active in the area, Sam is repeatedly unable to pay his rent and his bystanders appear to be bothered by the smell that hangs around Sam.

‘Under the Silver Lake’ is a remarkable film. It’s the kind of film you don’t often see anymore: slightly obscure cinema that is certainly not suitable for a large audience. Many movie viewers will therefore have some difficulty with ‘Under the Silver Lake’. The film has a difficult-to-reach main character and prefers surrealism and mystery to the conventional. While watching the film, the comparison is made with cult films such as ‘The Big Lebowski’ and ‘Inherent Vice’, in which a dazed protagonist gets lost in a plot that is almost impossible to follow. In terms of atmosphere, the film comes closer to the work of David Lynch.

Director David Robert Mitchell (‘It Follows’) eagerly sprinkles references to film classics, in which the work of grandmaster Alfred Hitchcock is especially sung. Just think of the continuous emphasis on voyeurism (‘Rear Window’). For example, Sam spies on his neighbor more than once, and his voyeuristic feelings eventually draw him into an unfathomable swamp of mystery. Or think of a wonderfully ironic scene where a friend of Sam’s spies on a fashion model with a drone, all the while musing about the total lack of privacy in the present day. But while watching the film, it’s also hard not to think about ‘Vertigo’ and the unhealthy, sometimes even perverse obsession with a woman.

‘Under the Silver Lake’ certainly knows how to intrigue and fascinate. The focus on deciphering hidden messages contributes to the fact that as a viewer you are also constantly looking for the countless references that Mitchell has incorporated in his film. Still, it’s a shame that the film has to lose some of its mystique towards the end. What also doesn’t help is that the film is twenty minutes too long. At a certain point, the bizarre plot twists and (existing or not) hidden messages also paralyzed the viewer.

Where ‘It Follows’ raised questions about the narrow-mindedness of sex, ‘Under the Silver Lake’ may serve as a warning about the susceptibility of young, lost souls to conspiracy theories and charlatans. It is beautifully expressed in a scene halfway through the film, when Sam seems to realize for a moment the emptiness of his own existence. The acting is good anyway: Andrew Garfield is in the right place here. With a constant look of wonder and confusion, Garfield is at times reminiscent of predecessors like Jeff Bridges (‘The Big Lebowski’) and Joaquin Phoenix (‘Inherent Vice’), although he just lacks the finesse and humor to really make his strange character his own. to make. More interesting is the delicately mystical supporting role of Riley Keough, who with interesting film choices such as ‘It Comes At Night’ and ‘American Honey’ already showed that he is more than just the granddaughter of Elvis Presley.

‘Under the Silver Lake’ beautifully shows how a perverted obsession can turn into paranoia, madness and madness, but also create a sense of purpose. It’s interesting that Mitchell has opted for a more surreal approach to ‘It Follows’, although he can’t resist throwing out some gruesome pinpricks every now and then. It’s a shame that the film falls a little short in the ending and is a bit too full, but Mitchell has certainly succeeded in making another interesting film that again offers food for thought, and in the long term could possibly develop into slightly obscure cult movie.

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