Under the Silver Lake
The odds are looking slim for unemployed, purposeless boy next door Sam (Andrew Garfield), whose disenchantment with life has him barking up the wrong tree. Unable to pay his significantly overdue rent, the resident of Eastern Los Angeles’s decrepit apartment complex spends his days smoking joints, smothering himself in erotic fantasies and playing voyeur to his elegant love interest, Sarah (Riley Keough). But when the woman in question subsequently vanishes after failing to show up to a scheduled date, Sam scours the City of Angels in search of her, and as a result, finds himself getting far more than he had originally bargained for.
Embedded in the neo-noir genre, Under The Silver Lake takes a modern-day look at the rise of the American counterculture that had enveloped the West during and following the post-war era. It exhibits a decadent and exploitative Hollywood whereby sex, drugs and rock‘n’roll were a means to an end; where the asymmetry of social and political power between men and women – shown primarily in the film through Sam’s scopophilic gaze – was the norm; and whereby wealth, coupled with greed, gave the super-rich the direct freedom and access to be able to seek whatever they so wished in life, right to their heart’s content – as is hinted during Sam’s worldly encounter with an elderly composer, who reveals that all the popular song hits that have emerged from the past six decades were composed entirely by him.
Though brilliantly performed by Garfield, the plot feels loquacious at times, meandering through peaks and troughs in order for director David Robert Mitchell to showcase his contorted imagination, as well as pay homage to cinematic greats, such as Hitchcock and Lynch. The filmmaker’s desire to astound his viewers and catch them off guard is sometimes to his detriment, leading to an acute disconnect in his character arcs. Nevertheless, the feature proves to be a visual wonder under the cinematography of Michael Gioulakis, whose carefully chosen chromatic palette makes for a picture-perfect postcard.
Under the Silver Lake is released nationwide on 15th March 2019.
Watch the trailer for Under the Silver Lake here: