I loved David Lynch’s 2001 film Mulholland Drive, and I’d rank it among my all-time favourites. It had just the right amount of cohesive story and – I hate to swear in my own blog, but – mind fuckery. But with Inland Empire, most of the cohesiveness is thrown out in favour of more mind fuckery, and without enough story to grab on to to feel immersed in what’s going on and in the characters, the mind fuckery doesn’t have quite the same impact.
Looking through the film’s trivia page on IMDb, I found this information about the film:
[Inland Empire] wasn’t originally intended to be a feature film. [David Lynch] would simply come up with an idea and – utilizing the versatility and ease of using DV cameras – would film it, creating a series of seemingly unrelated scenes[.]
And that’s pretty much what the film feels like. It could have worked, like how he made Mulholland Drive – a project that was supposed to be the pilot for a TV series – into a feature film, but in this case it doesn’t. It still has some great individual shots, scenes and performances, not to mention music, but it doesn’t ever really come together.