Directed by: David Robert Mitchell
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, Topher Grace
“Maybe there are people out there who are more important than us, more powerful, communicating things in the world that are meant for only them and not for us.”
Despite a troubling distribution schedule after hitting the festival circuit, David Robert Mitchell’s follow up to tantalizing It Follows has finally begun to see the light of day. Bringing back D.P Michael Gioulakis (Split) and composer Diasterpiece, Mitchell’s third feature-length endeavour is a left field swerve down a road that is as mysterious as the title itself. Stepping away from the anxious social horror of It Follows, Under The Silver Lake is a delirious suburban noir that brings us along on a spiralling web of underworlds, Illuminati style mysteries and a murder or two along the way.
Wearing its modern noir disguise in the open, Mitchell’s picks apart another agenda underneath the green grass and naive city smiles. It’s an agenda of hidden codes, intentions and goals that are only for those higher in the social hierarchy. Not for a greasy, problematic slacker that hasn’t paid his rent in god knows how long. Enter Andrew Garfield, giving a sleaze-filled performance that proves to be a career best, despite his troubling perspective on women that makes for an uneasy watch.
It’s uncomfortable and skin crawling but works to make Garfield’s “Sam” a vessel for all the cynicism and underworld brainwashing that he will ultimately endure to seemingly no real positive in his quest. And a quest it is indeed. When a woman from his flat complex disappears, with no explanation or trace to her existence, Sam takes it upon himself to uncover the real mystery behind her disappearance. His past and job history is never truly touched upon, only picked away at by other characters trying to uncover some human component inside Sam.
The clues begin to appear and bring an anxious sense of doubt with them. Are we actually finding a lead or we are actually going crazy the more we pull on the threads? Mitchell’s eerie and precise direction is on form once more in tandem with the dreamy wide lensed aesthetic that Gioulakis soaks the suburbia in. Palm trees and crosswalks are chosen favor of the glossy high rises that function continuously in the background.
Mitchell’s commitment to how truly unpredictable and oddball he takes the mystery is what really sold me on my experience with Silver Lake. It’s littered with brilliantly intriguing characters that add to contained lore that the film builds for itself almost unintentionally.
In the supporting cast, Patrick Fischler and Jeremy Bobb pop up along the way providing some of the best moments of strange character intricacies and sometimes reality shattering revelations. I particularly enjoyed spending time in the “lair” of Fischler’s simply titled “Comic Fan”, who has built his own web of messages. It adds to the continuous notion that Mitchell is painting a narrative that exists behind the scenes for anyone but Garfield.
Under The Silver Lake, in the end, proves itself to be another hazy passage through the unexpected, in the same vein of Mulholland Drive and Inherent Vice. I bet they’d make a unique triple bill.