Under the Silver Lake - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Under the Silver Lake Reviews

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June 20, 2019
i didn't care about this movie
½ May 18, 2019
Masturbatory and dull
½ May 17, 2019
Just like Mulholland Drive. Except really, really awful

Under the Silver Lake is a pretentious, self-indulgent, convoluted, overlong mess. Positioning itself as equal parts neo-noir and genre subversion, it's essentially a cross between David Lynch's Mulholland Dr. (2001) and Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice (2009). With the major difference being that it's absolutely, unrelentingly terrible. A mystery noir, it's also at pains to undermine and critique many of the genre's most recognisable tropes. Relocating the detective stories of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett to the chaotic postmodern era of cognitive semiotics where the relationship between signifier and signified is so arbitrary that meaning-making itself has become a protean commodity, it's a self-important piece of garbage. Fundamentally misogynistic, it's at least 45 minutes too long, with an unfocused narrative, poorly thought-out metaphors, and an insipid protagonist.

Set in contemporary LA, Under the Silver Lake follows Sam (Andrew Garfield), a 33-year-old man-child with no job, no ambition, and no direction, as he attempts to track down Sarah (Riley Keough), a women he recently met, and instantly fell in love with. His odyssey will take him to the darkest corners of LA, and will involve, amongst other things, a hipster pirate, secret codes hidden in everyday objects, a glam rock band, a dog murderer, a conspiracy theorist comic book writer (Patrick Fischler), the Hobo Code, a vast network of underground tunnels, an actual literal homeless king (David Yow), a helpful coyote, an unhelpful skunk, an escort agency staffed by former child-stars, a balloon dancer (Grace Van Patten), a walled-off Xanadu-like mansion, a mysterious songwriter (Jeremy Bobb) with a strange claim, a female serial killer who enters men's apartments wearing nothing but an owl mask, and a New Age cult lead by super-wealthy men.

Perhaps the most immediately obvious aspect of Silver Lake is that the score and cinematography are both extremely retro, serving to situate the film firmly in the formal styles of yesterday. Richard Vreeland's score is a solid imitation of Franz Waxman and Bernard Herrmann, whilst Mike Gioulakis's photography, with its overly dramatic camera movements and crash zooms that seem to come out of nowhere, recalls the work of Robert Burks and Sam Leavitt.

Thematically, the film is all over the place. Positing that pop culture has profound hidden meaning (in direct contrast to most cultural-anthropological thinking), the film is so imprecise and scattered that it's impossible to tell if Mitchell actually buys into the notion that schizophrenic conspiracies are all around us or if he's being facetious. And yes, I understand what he's doing - presenting the film from the point of view of a pop culture-saturated Millennial. However, Oliver Stone did a far better job of depicting a similarly media-soaked shortened-attention span over 20 years ago with Natural Born Killers (1994).

The most troubling thing about the film, however, is how it depicts women. Yes, it's partly about the male gaze and how Hollywood has a track record of objectifying women, especially in films of this nature, so a degree of objectification is necessary. But Mitchell does it to the point where critique becomes content - he doesn't need six women (only two of whom are even given names) to throw themselves at Sam to adequately deconstruct the trope. His intentions may be noble, but he's unable to distinguish between replication and repudiation. All the best intentions in the world don't alter the fact that the women in the film are wallpaper. So all the unnecessary topless shots aren't exploitative you see, because irony!!

And as for Sam's quest to find Sarah? Whereas in Mulholland Drive, Lynch creates a beautiful and complex tapestry where everything has precise meaning, no wasted motion, no weirdness simply for weirdness sake. In Silver Lake, on the other hand, Mitchell just lobs anything and everything at the viewer whether it's significant or not, resulting in a narrative so convoluted that any meaning it may have becomes subsumed amongst self-important pretension.

Under the Silver Lake is a tiresome, self-important, overlong, intellectually juvenile mess. If Mitchell actually has anything to say, it's lost within a painfully dull and self-indulgent plot. Allowed to play relatively unsupervised in the sandbox, the results are disastrous; a swollen, self-admiring film that can't follow through on anything, thematically or narratively, a film that is totally and completely in love with itself.
May 17, 2019
Beautifully shot. Sure to be divisive, especially depending on how the viewer interprets it. I'm not sure if writer/director David Robert Mitchell has a large enough oeuvre to gain insight into what he's going for here, which is why I believe there's such a divided response to the film.
May 17, 2019
Amazing surreal noir conspiracy dream. I loved it.
May 16, 2019
Really fun movie to watch and kept me engaged. Maybe I don't understand everything but the Songwriter scene is mwah!
May 12, 2019
Man is on a never ending quest to find meaning in life. Hollywood's been there the last hundred years to provide some answers. This is a movie about Hollywood's perpetuation of toxic masculinity -- a sort of homage to the unnatural answers it's given us about who we are and what we want along the way. "Under the Silver Lake" is a movie about recognizing that your ideas about life have been manipulated by popular culture, and that sometimes you have to kill your idols to truly understand yourself as a person and find freedom. This film is full of hidden meaning and meditations on relationships, every scene can be analyzed down to the sentence (hence, why I was super into it). It's a ride that emulates life -- which is maybe why other reviewers were so unsatisfied with it. The journey to understand yourself and accept your innermost desires is sometimes not the sexiest journey (but that last shot! Garfield never looked so comfortable inside of his body!). Anyway -- five stars. Watch not to escape but to engage.
May 8, 2019
loved the movie, gen Brick. one word: ridiculousness. so many unanswered questions.
May 7, 2019
Under The silver lake is such a wonderful oddity, its hard to know if its one of those movies designed like a Chinese puzzle box, its mysteries and clues, symbols and hidden meanings put there to be unravelled for years to come by die hard fans, or if the movie is in fact totally meaningless and is trolling you into thinking its got more up its sleeve than it has, the makers laughing to themselves secretly as you futilely sift through it all, much like Garfield's obsessive millenial slacker/amateur detective. The point could be that you can look for clues to the mysteries of the world as much as you want but the truth is that there is no mystery and no meaning to be found, except for the fact that everything is nonsensical chaos and nothing more. Whatever the case this is such an absorbing, compellingly unpredictable experience, it unfolds at a languid, stoned pace, like freeform jazz as a movie, taking you down strange paths and detours, it sone of those rare movies where you never know what is coming next, and it truly does go to some fucking weird, shocking places. You can never quite peg the movie down, even Andrew Garfield's lead isn't who you think he's going to be, at first seeing to be an ineffectual milquetoast every man, until he does some things that take the character into troubling and even unpleasant moral places that make you realise that he is actually a pretty unlikable, prickly protagonist. This is one of those "cult on arrival" movies, it will have a strong following dedicated to deciphering its many ambiguities and illusive details. But weather on not its worth digging into all that, or if indeed the film is playing as much a practical joke on the audience as Garfield's character, its worth at least just letting the movie wash over you and transport you, taking you on its trippy, pot smoke fogged journey into the dark, sinister, funny and sexy backrooms of it's alt universe Hollywood, filled with listless, star fucking, fame whore Millennial's. It can be at any given moment, an early 30 something Big Lebowski style detective comedy, a Hollywood satire, a horror, a dark murder mystery, a 21st century slacker noir set in culture less ruins of modern Hollywood, where the golden shine has faded somewhat, no one cares about anything and there is litter and shit stains on the walk of fame.
½ May 6, 2019
Complete utter gross drivel. Don't know why I wasted 2 hours and 20 minutes of my life watching this.
May 4, 2019
An experience like no other in today's cinema. Hitchcock, Truffaut and others are paid homage to by DRM and Mike Gioulakis. A twisting storyline and excellent acting by all of the players keep you guessing through out. There is a hefty commentary going on, one that says some painfully true things about our culture and times. If you stick with the surface, it is a quirky journey, if you go under the lake, you will be mulling it over for a while after. Wonderful movie...
April 30, 2019
What a pretentious piece of hipster shit.
April 29, 2019
This movie is FREAKIN INSANE! Andrew Garfield does an amazing job in this film and the how this film is directed is just very unique. The music and cinematography is excellent, really gives this film an atmosphere of paranoia and mystery. This film is SOOO intenionally absurd it's downright funny when it wants to. Grade: A+
April 28, 2019
Watched this one because of the favorable review on Roger Egbert. Sorry poor imitation of a David Lynch film. So boring and too long. Maybe director peaked with "it follows" Pass on this one.
½ April 25, 2019
What the hell happened here. Between the sublime imagery, the gratuitous nudity, the non sequiturs, and the constants stream of trite observations about life, this feels like if a 15 year old boy wanted to make Mulholland Drive by way of Blue Velvet. It's honestly so *nearly* compelling, only to then remind you that the director's idea of gender politics lags about 10 years behind the current zeitgeist. Eh. Weird
½ April 23, 2019
I think I'll become rich by making an anything goes movie like this. This is more like a dream with a blank ending or dancing with a pretty girl at the club who then vanishes
April 21, 2019
This film should be on many top ten lists for 2019. An R-rated Ready Player One.
April 21, 2019
Oh boy is this gonna become a cult classic. Best film of 2018?
April 21, 2019
Goofy and pointless, but the city of Los Angeles, indoor and outdoor scenes of places and things really stood out as a character itself. "I love L.A"
½ April 20, 2019
David Robert Mitchell's long-awaited followup to the brilliant "It Follows" - Under the Silver Lake is the work of a potentially major director. It's a swing for the fence, ambitious epic that addresses the meaninglessness of popular culture, the male gaze, white privilege, and millennial fandom. It's bold, overlong, and filled with charisma in a time when very few films are willing to take risks.
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