peasandcantos’s review published on Letterboxd:
The watchword on the lips of many a male director is DAVID LYNCH. If pressed, most of them would admit by this they mean TWIN PEAKS up until SO AND SO is revealed to be the killer, BLUE VELVET, and maybe a soupçon of MULHOLLAND DRIVE (pressed further they reveal that that soupçon is all the sexism with none of the sex appeal). Enter THE EMPTY MAN, a movie directed by someone who somehow understood, not only why TWIN PEAKS is great, but why it ultimately made sense for D. Lynch to circle back a quarter of a century later and make THE RETURN, which I admit I haven't watched all of yet. The reasoning is quite simple: when you promise something in the form or content, you must deliver in some way. And it pains me to say that the major thing that I loved about this movie is that almost every promise it made, from the overlong preface to the nebulous ex-cop man pain shit (always a risky roll of the dice!), corresponded to some device, any device really, in the second half of the film. Which is not to say that this devolves into some kind of Chekhovian realism, in which the gun in the drawer goes off. There are some pretty serious "third act problems" that are...interesting, and probably repay comparison to the last act of IT FOLLOWS, which similarly deals with doubleness (doubled characters, double takes, etc.) and yet can't quite cohere, in spite of its best efforts. But, whew, even if you only watch the THIRTY MINUTE PREFACE you will walk away gratified and scared. And that that's the case is weird and great!