This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
David Sigura’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Don’t play it for real, until it’s real.
I want to get this out of the way - I think the ideas and concepts behind this film are mad, and brilliant. The deconstruction of the Hollywood mythos and its artificial happiness through dreamwork is nothing short of dazzling. My FAVORITE part of how this movie was constructed can be reflected in the italicized quote above - how the acting is hammy and soapy until our dream-like state is shattered almost 2 hours into the film, revealing a fractured reality with POWERHOUSE acting performances from the cast (Naomi Watts in particular, god damn). That kind of choice is a powerful - and ballsy - one to make, and one that I must deeply respect Lynch for making.
BUT...that doesn’t mean I’m in love with every choice made here. Apart from the soap opera-esque performances that carry the first two hours, the film features a soap opera production value for the entirety of the runtime. Flat lighting and uneven, shockingly bland cinematography run rampant, although it does spice things up when the nightmarish “reality” hits. Still, it’s not a very pretty film, and considering how important aesthetic appeal is to me personally, it did make me wish they went in a different direction in that department.
More narrative elements of the film are becoming clearer the more I think about them, especially the scenes revolving around our director and his lack of creative control in ALL facets of this dream-life. Other elements continue to confound me (they seem to be what puzzles everyone else who has seen the movie: the laughing old couple, the hitman, the thing behind the diner, etc). Some claim that to interpret these dream-like scenes with any sort of accuracy as to Lynch’s intentions would “ruin the experience” of watching the film - something I fundamentally disagree with. I’m not sure “dreams aren’t meant to be interpreted” is a strong enough pass I can give for narrative elements not appearing to line up. But, subsequent viewings of the film and helpful essays on the subject may shed some more clarity.
I’m definitely not done with this movie!