A mysterious trailer is enough to ignite the expectations of a Croisette which had had to give up so many headliners announced by rumors. Under the Silver Lake movie was enticing, and indeed the perfect prey for widespread disappointment.
Under the Silver Lake movie critic
It is clear that David Robert Mitchell’s third film, after the modest The Myth of the American Sleepover, and the promising It Follows, does not spare its techniques of seduction: a colorful and solar image in a baroque Los Angeles, reminiscent of the contrasting imagery of Tarantino’s films or the nighttime photo of those of Richard Kelly (whom we despair of hearing anyway), a loser character who fucks with the same conviction that he smokes and, despite his sparrow template, hits animals, children or smashes skulls with Cobain’s guitar, girls and parties, a colorful human and animal bestiary under the aegis of barely curbed madness. We eye the Big Lebowski on several occasions, even if the author has the wisdom not to try to compete with this inimitable model.
Under the Silver Lake offers, in this setting where even the nights seem sunny, a dark intrigue with detours that have themselves become clichés: missing girl, collusion with the richest and therefore the most opaque spheres, investigation in the form of perdition at the discretion of levels more and more distant from rationality. The great merit of the film lies in its topographical proposal and its exploration of the underworld city: from crypts to rooftop pools to tunnels and reservoirs, LA is definitely THE city of the seventh art, a kind of funfair, a theater of illusions, an open-air fairground attraction in which all security barriers have been removed.
The result is a dreamlike and offbeat journey, resolutely pop, in which references (comics, music, cinema) accumulate until a form of nausea thick enough to save the film from a simple formalist joke. In this universe where everyone wants to become an actor, and where the filmmaker himself shows in a Drive-in extracts from his first film (which, precisely, endeavored to demystify, from its title, a cliché of the rite of American passage), contact with reality becomes cloudy, and announces a deeper reflection than it seems.
Because the ambition of Under the Silver Lake movie is ambivalent: by the way in which it will draw on a certain number of commonplaces and quotes (the grave of Hitchcock, the schizophrenic town of Mulholland Drive, the unusual baroque of Magnolia, the jerk humor of Inherent Vice…), it can seem pretentious; but the claws struck at its foundations by its off-center tone allow it to offer itself a real personality, endearing because lucidly awkward.
Read also: List of the Best 2021 movies – Plus trailers
The assertive desire to play with a star to beat her up and lose her is just the first sign of a journey to strip the varnish from celluloid. The dynamic is twofold: the investigation brings to light, literally, obscure corners of the city, certainly colorful and fantastic, but brings with it a certain number of characters to a concrete place, an anteroom that would be able to respond to their fundamental anxieties. Despite its multiple referrals, the story therefore has a real destination, and this one, far from offering the traditionally saving glimmers of the denouement, comes to blacken the baroque delusions of a morbid melancholy as astonishing as it is welcome.
Under the Silver Lake movie is hair-raising, awkward, disheveled. Its ambition is exciting. There remains one major challenge for it: to be sustainable to confirm that we would have here the first impetus of a film destined to become cult. Either way, he places his director in the circle of filmmakers to watch with impatience.