Film Review – Under the Silver Lake (2018)

Title – Under the Silver Lake (2018)

Director – David Robert Mitchell (It Follows)

Cast – Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, Riki Lindhome, Topher Grace

Plot – Set in the sun-bleached surrounds of L.A, aimless Sam (Garfield) sets out to uncover the reasoning behind the mysterious disappearance of Sarah (Keough), a girl he had previously seen in his apartment complex.

“Welcome to Purgatory”

Review by Eddie on 31/05/2019

Not often do you finish a film and not know what on earth it was about but its the exact sentiment your likely to feel after watching David Robert Mitchell’s Under the Silver Lake, a David Lynch like journey through the sun bleached surrounds of Los Angeles.

A film that gives all new meaning to the term odd, Lake is certainly not the film you expect from Mitchell whose last film was the critically lauded horror It Follows, as we follow around Andrew Garfield’s 30 something year old LA based slacker Sam, whose on a quest to uncover the reasoning behind Riley Keough’s attractive acquaintance Sarah disappearance from his apartment complex.

It doesn’t sound like an overly complicated set-up but when Lake throws in a mysterious dog killer, a crazed songwriter, zany religious cults, a homeless king, a talking parrot and a dream like rock band, you quickly begin to realize that Lake is anything but a stereotypical narrative ride.

At close to two and a half hours its also clear that Mitchell is in no rush to give answers to his audience as Sam’s journey gets more and more bizarre, as he slowly but surely ebbs closer to uncovering the meaning behind Sarah’s middle of the night disappearance.

It’s the type of product that’s going to encourage a lot of audience disengagement, sleep and a reaching for the off button, a likely occurrence in the majority of instances but its also not hard to see Lake quickly become a cult favourite not dissimilar in tone and place to Donnie Darko.

Mitchell has thrown in an abundance of hidden messages, metaphors and mysteries that instant fans of this work are going to lap up on repeat viewings for years to come but I cant help have the feeling that at the end of the day Lake feels like one big troll from the filmmaker, who seems on face value to be unearthing a deep and layered vision to be unwrapped by us viewers, only to gleefully be smiling down on us as it becomes more plausible that Lake is having at laugh at us with an expertly constructed plan.

No matter your end feelings, Lake is a well shot, scored and acted piece, giving Garfield one of his more memorable big screen characters and for fans of films set around the sprawling heart of Hollywood, Lake offers a unique view of the city of stars.

Final Say –

A film that’s just as likely about nothing as it is something, Under the Silver Lake won’t be adored by most of its watchers but it’s highly likely Mitchell’s unique oddity becomes an instant cult hit in the film world, talked about and examined for year’s yet to come.

3 Spider-Man comics out of 5

16 responses to “Film Review – Under the Silver Lake (2018)

    • There was a special screening in Melbourne this week. I believe it comes to cinemas nationally in June. It’s well worth a look.
      E

      • Yeh man fairly sure its out either this week or at the very end of the month nationally, although I’d imagine it will be more likely to only appear in art-house cinemas.
        E

      • I pretty much agree with your thoughts. I liked it, even though I was slightly disappointed that it didn’t go anywhere overly exciting.

      • Yeh that was the thing, you were waiting for a big story moment but it was mainly just slowly paced and randomly plotted ha. Even though you get the sense that there is a lot going on that will take years to fully unlock.
        E

  1. “A film that’s just as likely about nothing as it is something”

    Friggin’ spot on. Not so much a good experience when I watched this film, but I’ll admit that it’s grown on me (only just!) as I’ve let it sit. I hate the absolute plethora of nudity, especially when the film has a light commentary on the sexualization of women in Hollywood, but when discarding that pervasive attribute, the rest of the film has a lot to offer.

    But also, potentially, nothing to offer.

    I think there’s something really neat about having both of those realities in mind when looking at a work like this, and while I really didn’t like the direction Mitchell went with regards to the treatment of his actors (you know, cause the nudity), I look forward to seeing more from him. The way he writes feels like someone who simply loves what he’s doing. Like, a genuine love for the craft from start to finish.

    • Such an odd beast this one, like I honestly dont think it was that far away from being something amazing even with all its obvious issues.
      E

      • Exactly. It’s got a quality that gives it depth but it’s lathered in so much surface level nonsense I can’t help but find it problematic.

      • I just want to know what the director was actually trying to say ha, there is so much discussion around it all on the net.
        E

      • I think he was pushing against the idea that people need to know everything. He sort of touched on that the only reason Sam wanted to know stuff was to be part of an exclusive club of rich people, partying and carefree like those who have so much money and power, but as he learns in the film, it’s ultimately valueless, there’s always more to learn, and sometimes that group of people isn’t worth associating with. It’s why the ending has the bird where he decides he doesn’t care what its saying, even if it could be saying something poignant or pertinent to his investigation.

        As for the smaller, more nuanced stuff, who knows. I prob won’t rewatch it again but it’s fun to think about (and the OST is great!)

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