December 09, 2019

Review Under the Silver Lake (2018)

By David Robert Mitchell | USA
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It’s no secret that Hollywood is a terrifying place. The so called City of Angels that has stood for over a hundred years has been the center of the world’s creative industry and the home to millions of film, TV, and music creators throughout the century. A comforting thought is to think of Hollywood a place where dreams come true and where the traditional American dream may just still be alive. But unless you’ve been living under three hundred tons of concrete, by now you must’ve heard of the many dark things that lurks beneath the busy streets of the city. How the corruption and ingenuity of corporate entities has long tainted the sacred artforms we’ve come to love; how drugs, sex, and even murders has shaped a lot of our favorite artists’ lives; how predators hunt mercilessly without surveillance.
This horrifying truth is what David Robert Mitchell took in strive as the monster of his latest mystery thriller. Like its predecessors in the anti-hollywood subgenre (“Mulholland Drive” being the clear inspiration), “Under the Silver Lake” is a film that uses the mythical status of Hollywood, both the good and bad, and twist it into something horrific. It’s so much so a love letter to the industry that the city has grew from as it is a breaking up letter; exposing the truth in a hyperbolic fantasy story that somehow still makes for a believable case.
It’s a statement in and of itself, that a film filled with audacious conspiracies and insane plot points can still feel believable, simply because anything just seems plausible when we’re talking about Hollywood. Unless, those things diminish the value of the Hollywood myth. Then, and only then, will the public refuse to believe. Maybe Tupac is still alive, or maybe Kurt Cobain was murdered? These are the only questions that seems to matter in the public eye. But when a rumor arises of a beloved artist turning out to be a fraud, or a masterclass director came out as a pedophile, then we refuse to accept the possibility of such truth. All because of the Hollywood power to gain our everlasting worship.
These were certainly big ideas, and it would sadly seems that it’s too big for Mitchell himself to pull off. With an already long runtime (at least for a movie of this kind), “Under the Silver Lake” still feels too crowded for its own good. There were simply too many subplots and stories with equally interesting characters for it to developed in a mere two hours. Even our main protagonist, Sam, played by the underrated Andrew Garfield, feels a bit undeveloped which shows in how unclear his motivations could feel at times. The disappointing part is knowing that with the amount of materials at hand, Mitchell could easily turn this into a miniseries, which I think would benefit the story tremendously. I would very much enjoy to spend more time with the interesting cast, which I feel delivers in every one of their roles perfectly — Jimmi Simpson and Grace van Patten (she should be everyone’s movie crush by now) being two of my favorites. Even Jeremy Bobb, who only appears in one scene (the best scene in my opinion) is absolutely enthralling to watch.
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“Under the Silver Lake” continues to make a case gor David Robert Mitchell’s handling of horror. The clever ways he views Los Angeles and in particular the area surrounding Silver Lake is a both a delight and a nightmare for those who dreams of walking those star-marked streets. If “La La Land” encourages us to dream, then “Under the Silver Lake” like “Mulholland Drive” is telling us not to. Because our dreams are nothing but dust in the eyes of Hollywood — dust that can be sold for cash.
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