Under The Silver Lake surprised me right off the bat with some sharp direction with the camera moving about in directions I wasn’t expecting, and some sounds from the thunderous opening score of the 1991 Cape Fear remake, such that it feels like. So, we’re not in for a straight forward ride, here.
In fact, the combination of score and camera shots, such as when it zooms up to approach a subject, it gives it a great Hitchcock-style, as Sam (Andrew Garfield – Breathe, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man 2) becomes entranced with new neighbour Sarah (Riley Keough – The House That Jack Built), and it doesn’t take long before they clearly want to get to know each other better, but it’s getting late, and the situation calls for her to suggest they reconvene the following afternoon.
As he goes over the next day, the house is empty and Sarah is gone. In the middle of the night?!
Meanwhile, in a separate storyline, a famous businessman has gone missing, and at the same time, there’s a dog killer on the loose. Plus, Sam keeps seeing a strange symbol everywhere he goes. So many things reference back to the Silver Lake, but are they related or, like real life, are they just a set of random happenings that have no connection with each other and is Sam looking for answers that’ll never come? Either way, he needs to investigate.
As Sam sets off to find the truth, where every step is different, and every step is increasingly more bizarre, you’ll struggle to find a more offbeat thriller all year. It’s all incredibly weird, as he starts seeing things that aren’t there, there’s great inconsequential conversations, and if there’s a film that this reminds me of, it’s David Fincher’s The Game, starring Michael Douglas and Sean Penn. That was a series of weird scenes, one after another, but that one didn’t have much of a pay-off at the end of it, and so rather undid all the hard work.
I always think that a film really needs to have a reason to last longer than two hours, and this one delivers in spades with weird stuff after weird stuff after weird stuff, and while not much of it made sense, it was incredibly entertaining. Does this one reach an adequate conclusion? Pretty much nearly 100%. I’m about 95% on board with it, and perhaps another viewing would seal that for me, or perhaps the film was just a little too long? Either way, it’s been 22 years since I last saw a film quite this odd, and I wish they came along more often.
I also liked the bookstore with a central desk made entirely out of books. It made me realise that’s pretty much unsustainable in the long run.
A couple of asides before I end this review. Firstly, love that he exacts revenge on a couple of kids who keyed his car. It’s not the done thing to be violent in that way, but if their parents are letting them run riot, it’s only just for him to carry this out. And who hasn’t had such crap from kids in the street before now?
Finally, Sam is very much into his comic books, and it’s very amusing to see him wake up in a scene, and pick up a The Amazing Spider-Man comic without thinking about it. 😀
The extras are as follows including a Q&A and two featurettes, and I cannot express any more clear that you DO NOT watch these before seeing the film, itself:
- Q&A with Andrew Garfield (11:44): Shot at the Prince Charles Cinema in London, and as much as I enjoy these sorts of extras, I’d rather they show the entire thing and not cut it down to a much shorter piece. The Q&A is hosted by David Jenkins.
I wish these extras were subtitled as this one is rather echoey. I’m sure someone could’ve flattened that out in post-production.
- What Lies Under The Silver Lake? (10:25): production designer Michael T Perry talks about finding the perfect location and how they made it even better, ad how there’s so many twists and turns and links in everything, that even he got confused while making the film, although he explains that it wasn’t easy when you shoot a film out of continuity.
I get the impression that rewatching this film will enable me to see things I missed first time, and maybe it’ll be even better next time?
- Beautiful Specter (9:30): Rich Freeland (aka Disasterpeace) talks about the music he made for the movie, from the Turning Teeth pop song to the ’50s-style noir score.
Running time: 139 minutes
Released: August 26th 2019
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS 5.1 HD-MA
Subtitles: English SDH
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Prores 4444 XQ)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: David Robert Mitchell
Producers: Chris Bender, Michael De Luca, Adele Romanski, Jake Weiner
Screenplay: David Robert Mitchell
Sam: Andrew Garfield
Sarah: Riley Keough
Bar Buddy: Topher Grace
Allen: Jimmi Simpson
Jefferson Sevence: Chris Gann
Millicent Sevence: Callie Hernandez
Mrs. Sevence: Jessica Makinson
Mom (voice): Deborah Geffner
Troy: Zosia Mamet
Mae: Laura Leigh
Shooting Star #1: India Menuez
Shooting Star #2: Sydney Sweeny
Comic Man: Patrick Fischler
Songwriter: Jeremy Bobb
Topless Bird Woman: Wendy Vaden Hueval
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.