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Inland Empire, Take 2

January 3rd, 2007 (04:50 pm)

So I saw Inland Empire again last night. I think my first impressions about what was going on have been confirmed, and I actually see some more evidence. So here we have my brief take on the symbolism. As always, thanks to Wade for his first thoughts, which started all this.

...so read at yer own risk if you haven't seen the movie yet.

This movie more or less follows Nikki Grace's actions and thoughts (and especially thoughts) as she shoots the movie On High In Blue Tomorrows.

Whores: different elements of Nikki's movie character Susan and how Nikki regards her. In the movie-within-a-movie, Susan stole Billy from his wife (although it's not clear who really instigated things) and seemingly went downhill from there. Nikki is supposed to be pretty upstanding in real life; Devon makes a comment to that effect, and there's the threat from Nikki's husband to Devon (whether real or imagined). So playing this character is doing something that Nikki wouldn't in real life, and she'd probably regard it as such.

Slum setting: Same as whores. Nikki's viewpoint on her surroundings becomes trashier and trashier as the production progresses.

Real-life husband in working-class setting: Nikki's emotions feeling she's devaluing her marriage as she assumes more and more of the role.

Black-haired Woman (the one who starts out married to the Billy character): in the end, I think this became the full realization of Nikki's role as Susan, once she comes to full understanding and acceptance of what that role is. I say this because her last interaction with the character is to kiss her affectionately, almost kissing her goodbye and good luck as she is born and separates from Nikki. (This idea definitely came from Wade.) Compare this to the opening shot, of the woman in the hotel who's being asked by the man to act as a whore, seemingly something new to this woman. But isn't that Hollywood, to a certain degree?

Rabbit Family: ... this one I'm still not sure about. It could very well be Nikki's attitude towards the "outside world" during the shoot; it's unreal, it's separate from what she's doing. I have to work on this.

"Guy Upstairs" (from the bar, which turns into the theater): Nikki's conscience / sense of self. The discussion with this guy is Nikki's confusion over what's going on with the production; movies are usually shot out of sequence, and she's confused about events, character motivation, and just "who" all these people are.

Not sure about: Initials "L.B." on Susan's right hand (on her downward spiral)

Does Nikki really sleep with Devon? Not clear. Not really sure it matters. I don't think it would materially change any of the above.

I'm sure if I see it again, I'll have more comments...

If you've got something to add to this, please feel free!

All this is really making me think that David Lynch is much much more of a visionary than people realize. (And people do think he's a visionary now...)