Under the Silver Lake: A fever dream of cinematic wonderment
Director David Robert Mitchell’s follow-up to the magnificent It Follows, Under the Silver Lake is a fever dream of cinematic wonderment. In a film that is perhaps best described as Mullholland Drive meets Vertigo, the plot follows Sam (Andrew Garfield), an unemployed, sexually frustrated millennial who has a crush on his neighbour Sarah (Riley Keough). Just as they start to become acquainted, however, Sarah vanishes without a trace, sending Sam down a rabbit hole of conspiracies as he follows a breadcrumb trail of hidden messages and cryptic codes while attempting to track her down.
With a mysterious dog killer, subliminal hidden messages, nightmarish creatures and an anonymous pirate, there’s a lot of weirdness lurking under the surface of this dreamlike version of Los Angeles. These idiosyncratic quirks, although downright bonkers, are what form the basis for the film’s zany charm – throwing in a dash of Lynchian mystery for good measure. Like our strangest and most vivid dreams, we never know how events will escalate, only that they’re going to get stranger. The narrative follows its own rules of irrational logic, and it’s ingenious.
Outside of the central mystery plot, there’s plenty more to adore about Mitchell’s newest creation. Littered with numerous references to popular music and film culture, Under the Silver Lake is brimming with a self-aware humour cinephiles are bound to be won over by, particularly in how it pays homage to the Golden Era of Hollywood. Just as much as it’s lovably quirky, the movie is likewise genuinely terrifying in parts, with plenty of unsettling imagery that covers the vibrant city in a blanket of creepy folklore that similarly operates by its own twisted, dreamlike logic.
No praise of this film would be complete without talking about its glorious use of orchestral music; it sounds like the sweeping instrumental suites could have been scored by Bernard Herrmann himself (the music was composed by Disasterpeace, who also created the haunting tracks for It Follows). Combine that with the use of pop tracks of yesteryear alongside the stunning cinematography and off-the-wall narrative, and we’re left with a wholly unique film experience.
With a mammoth runtime of 140 minutes, Under the Silver Lake does overstay its welcome at times, but it’s nonetheless a fascinating viewing experience. Take a deep breath, dive in and let yourself be carried away and swallowed whole by this modern masterpiece.
Under the Silver Lake is released nationwide on 15th March 2019.
Read more reviews from our Glasgow Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Glasgow Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for Under the Silver Lake here: