Under the Silver Lake
Stars: Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, Topher Grace
Writer-director David Robert Mitchell’s follow-up to the excellent teen horror ‘It Follows’ plays like a rambling stoner take on Hitchcock in David Lynch trappings. Garfield, turning the gawk up to eleven, is Sam, a slacker who lives in a slightly rundown Hollywood apartment complex. No job, no apparent source of income, and facing eviction, he spends his days hanging out and occasionally spying on his frequently topless middle-aged neighbour like a seedier version of James Stewart in ‘Rear Window’. He is roused from his torpor when the beautiful Sarah (Keough) arrives at the complex and invites him in to watch TV and smoke weed. When she disappears in the middle of the night taking all her belongings with her, Sam becomes obsessed with tracking her down, his quest taking him through various LA parties and happenings, while exploring the far reaches of pop culture-inspired conspiracy theories. The striking depiction of LA is redolent of such other West Coast noirs as Robert Altman’s ‘The Long Goodbye’ and Lynch’s ‘Mulholland Drive’. Mitchell’s use of composition is accomplished and the soundtrack tastefully assembled, but over a two hour twenty minute running time this feels self-indulgent (Richard Kelly’s borderline incoherent and sprawling ‘Donnie Darko’ follow-up ‘Southland Tales’ feels like an antecedent) and as the plotting becomes ever more baroque the central mystery becomes less alluring. File under interesting failure.