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Under The Silver Lake – film review

July 5, 2019


Eyes Wide Shut for the Millennial Generation.

Reviewed on Saturday 29th June 2019

Written & directed by David Robert Mitchell. Starring: Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, Topher Grace, Patrick Fischler, Luke Baines and Grace Van Patten. Running time: 139 mins.

Best described as a neo-noir Hitchcockian thriller, David Robert Mitchell’s follow-up to his genuinely creepy, dread-laden instant horror classic It Follows was, for me, one of my most anticipated films of 2019.

In a story not too dissimilar to Tom Cruise’s dream-like journey down the rabbit hole in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, Sam (Andrew Garfield) embarks on a lurid, mystery-filled incursion into the secret societal underbelly of the Hollywood elite. A self-styled slacker and armchair conspiracy theorist, Sam is compelled to learn the truth behind the sudden disappearance of his enigmatic new neighbour and classic noir mystery girl Sarah (Riley Keough).

Currently unemployed and unable to keep up with his car repayments; while facing imminent eviction from his condo (due to his falling behind in his rent) – Sam is inexplicably drawn to decipher the unfolding puzzle surrounding Sarah’s vanishing – becoming obsessed with this alluring distraction much to the detriment of addressing his financial situation. He really is something of a reckless noir hero.

Despite his character being something of a dweeb, the always reliable Andrew Garfield (Never Let Me Go, The Amazing Spider-Man) does well in imbuing Sam     with a certain degree of likeability and charm. Likewise, the large supporting cast of characters whom Sam encounters along the way are colourful and intriguing; giving us a sense this world Mitchell has created is indeed a real place – extending well beyond Sam’s own interactions with it.

Not wanting to ruin the element of surprise, I deliberately shied away from reading anything about this film prior to seeing it – having only viewed the trailer once on-line. And while the trailer itself doesn’t give away any substantial plot points to speak of – it does tend to give the misleading impression this is more of a comedy than anything else. While the film does sport moments of levity, the humour is more akin to that found in Scorsese’s After Hours or any number of David Lynch movies – there purely to take the edge off some of the film’s darker aspects.

While a compelling and engaging watch for much of its running time, my only real criticism has to do with the denouement. For some reason, the lead-out following the final reveal of the mystery seems to fall a little flat – not enough to take away from the overall experience, but it does (weirdly) create a somewhat deflating effect. Although I imagine on a re-watch this will be less of an issue.

While not nearly as keenly focussed or tightly-knit as Mitchell’s It Follows (being a more complex story played out on a substantially larger canvas) – Under the Silver Lake is still entertainingly engaging and well worth a look.

3.5 stars out of 5

Star ratings: 1 – poor / 2 – below average / 3 – good / 4 – excellent / 5 – unmissable

Viewed at the Trak Cinema, Adelaide, June 29th 2019

Greg Moss is a film school graduate with a background in directing music videos     and is currently seeking representation as a screenwriter. He likes creative people, feeding the cat and watching genre movies. Greg can also be heard on the Blu-ray commentary track for the 1980 sci-fi thriller Saturn 3, out now from Scream Factory.

From → film reviews

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