Released in 2006, David Lynch’s Inland Empire achieved a worldwide gross of $4,037,577, with the cost of production for the movie that was shot over two years and written simultaneously presently unknown. For the most part, Inland Empire was met with critical appraise, seen as another work of art from the visionary director. Online review aggregators Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic give the film a score of 71 and 72, respectively, with IMDB grading Inland Empire 7/10.
Inland Empire, director David Lynch, and lead Laura Dern went on to receive nominations for Best Actress and Best Picture at various award ceremonies as well as win the Future Film Festival Digital Award at the Venice Film Festival and the Best Experimental Film at the National Society of Film Critics Awards.
Here’s how some of the major and relevant outlets graded Inland Empire in review:
Variety details Inland Empire as being best suited to followers of David Lynch, but for those who are unfamiliar with his work, the film can be “dull as dishwater.” The review does, however, credit Laura Dern for her performance, noting that the lack of a complete script, lack of a real sense of direction for the actors, and regular new scripts made Dern’s coherence as the protagonist even more remarkable.
Slant Magazine was in-synch with the majority of reviewers in seeing Inland Empire as an artistic piece of filmmaking bolstered by the performance of the lead. David Lynch was credited for his willingness to embrace the dark contours of the DV format to reflect the in-too-deep acting of the protagonist Nikki. Laura Dern, who plays Nikki, is seen as giving the performance of her career to the date of release, praised by the reviewer for being willing to “get ugly for her art.”
The Guardian came to the defence of Inland Empire in the faces of those who simply deemed the film to be confusing. They say that it is chaotic, mad, and sometimes exasperating while often not making much sense, but is far from being as confusing as some report. It’s also noted that reality often feels somewhat dull for a long moment after finishing a David Lynch movie. Inland Empire continued to be praised by the Guardian, making it onto the outlet’s ’10 Most Underrated Movies of the Decade’ in 2009.
Empire deems to movie to be David Lynch’s most far-out and screwed-up piece since Eraserhead (1977), which was also deemed to be a five-out-of-five movie in their review. They praise the movie as throughout its duration, Lynch maintains an astonishing commitment that almost dares the viewer to keep up, surprising those who believe that a movie needs a clear narrative to make sense. Empire also credits Laura Dern with an unbelievable performance.
David Lynch utilises every element of the art of filmmaking to make the movie reflect the complete confusion and unravelling experienced by his protagonist. It will make many movie-goers very uncomfortable, and intentionally so, as this film is less about appeasing the audience and more about pushing the boundaries to emphasise the story. Read the full review here.