Ok, where do I start? Going into "Under the Silver Lake," I was convinced that this movie was going to be bad, because it got delayed like four times and pushed almost a year and a half out from its original release date. (Something similar happened and continues to happen to "New Mutants," and I don't think that movie is ever going to see the light of day.) Mostly due to that fear of badness, I had this one on my watchlist for a long time, but had held off on watching it because of those bad vibes, but also because I wanted to rewatch "It Follows" first (I did - that movie owns and everyone who tried to convince me otherwise was wrong) and I needed to have like a good long uninterrupted afternoon because this film is like three hours long.
Last weekend, the stars aligned - my couch got delivered, a date cancelled on me, and I had a long, lazy Sunday stretching out ahead of me with the laundry already done. Right out of the gate I wanna say - this movie was the perfect way to spend that time. I don't know if I have a lot of interesting things to say about it, but I really enjoyed every piece of it, and I think it delivered on what I'd hoped for (and had not gotten) from "Me, Him, Her," which was pitched as a "oh wow LA is dark and whacky and craaaazy" movie, but really just ended up being a sweet but kinda empty rehash of "Chasing Amy." (Also, Max Landis ended up being an actual full on rapist, and wow, that super sucks and I'm still dealing with how into that dude I got for a few years there. Yikes.)
"Under The Silver Lake" follows Sam (Andrew Garfield) as he criss-crosses LA and all its various crowds (hipsters, punks, weirdos, losers, the homeless and the uber-wealthy) trying to find a missing girl caught up in a twisty-tangle-y ever-complicating conspiracy full of subliminal messages, cults of personality, murderers from urban legends, treasure maps, and a tunnel system that runs underneath the heart of LA.
Ok, digging in a bit - I think "Under the Silver Lake" also delivers on its premise way better than "It Follows" did. That movie has a great set up, it's incredible to look at, it has a really well executed mood, it's super spooky, the score is fantastic, the climax is maybe my favorite in a horror movie, but somehow, those pieces don't feel like they add up. The middle of that movie (not the sequential middle, but like the core?) feels a little empty, and although there is a sense of urgency baked into that movie, it's kind of a slow unfocused urgency, because that's all you really need to outrun that monster.
"Silver Lake" on the other hand almost makes the unfocused-ness the point? There is a central mystery propelling the film forward from start to finish, but the best and most interesting parts happen all along the way as Sam's journey sprawls out into all the different neighborhoods that make up LA. Not everything that happens matters, but all of it is interesting to watch. Speaking of, I loved watching this movie - the way it looks and sounds and feels - it's just a good piece of work to get completely absorbed into, which I think is because of the slow kind of meandering pace. It's kind of like - ok, bear with me - kind of like:
Andrew Garfield plays chess with Topher Grace at this big garden party brunch in one scene, and it just radiates that vibe of oversleeping on a Sunday and then getting dragged out to something with your buddies but still feeling kind of disoriented and warm, with the sun shining in your eyes and the blue of the sky is almost somehow just a bit too blue, and you think, that's weird, but actually, maybe this is how everything is always supposed to look and I just haven't been sleeping enough since, well, maybe since that one night my junior year of high school when I had to stay up and finish that history paper, and you stand there for a second and blink and everything is simultaneously moving in realtime and dreamtime in kind of the same way that the good episodes of "Twin Peaks" were?
Actually, that's probably the best comparison honestly - each new piece of information is not necessarily a new clue, but rather another interesting angle to view the whole big crystalline mess from.
I have completely lost the plot at this point (which feels appropriate) so I'll stop here and close by saying I liked this movie in both the overall and moment-to-moment sense. On top of that, I think its "message moments" all hit like gut punches, and really tied the whole sprawling odyssey together. So, if anything I've rambled about up to this point has been mildly entertaining for you, check out "Under the Silver Lake" ASAP.