Under the Silver Lake


“We crave mystery, because there’s none left.”

Sam (Andrew Garfield) is a jobless liar that makes a habit of spying on women. When one of these women vanishes, he sets out to explore the secret depths and mysteries of Los Angeles in a quest to find her.

This is a strange film, and there is a lot to unpack and process. Firstly, I will say that the cinematography and soundtrack are both phenomenal. I expected no less from David Robert Mitchell after his work on It Follows, which happens to be one of my favorite films.

Under the Silver Lake is a scathing commentary of the society that it comes from. A self-aware satire depicting a culture of sex and violence so intertwined that they cannot exist without one another. A good example of this is the scene wherein Sam and The Actress (Riki Lindhome) are engaging in intercourse while watching the News reports of death and suffering.

There is also the constant message that life, wealth, and importance are all fleeting. Tombstones of once-great Hollywood figures are all but neglected, trash collecting about them from passers that have already forgotten the names of those lying beneath the earth. The faces of great and important historical figures are only meaningful to someone that society considers crazy.

Society makes everything fashionable including Jesus, turning an imposter into one of the idols that the Bible warned against. People all across the world believe that they are thinking for themselves, rebelling, making a difference; but we are all told what to think and believe by the media that we consume, and those that control the media pull the strings.

“Your art, your writing, your culture is the shell of other men’s ambitions. Ambitions beyond what you will ever understand.”

Under the Silver Lake is also a social commentary on wealth and employment, the absolute boredom of our modern society, and the hopelessness that is felt by millions because of this. Sam would rather investigate occult clues and mysteries than go out and work at a mundane job, even when he is in danger of losing everything. He sees the rich around him and wants to be one of them, and yet despises the homeless because they are his closer kin.

I loved the scene where Andrew Garfield gets the Spider-Man comic stuck to his hand and attempts to shake it free, and could only see it as a metaphor for his acting career. I also loved the cameo from one of my favorite bands, the Silversun Pickups.

Under the Silver Lake could have been a fantastic film if it stuck to one of the dozens of plots and explored it, rather than bouncing around between all of them. I understand that, like its subject matter, the film itself is meant to be an enigma, a puzzle to piece together over the course of multiple viewings.

This is definitely worthy of a watch simply for the messages contained within and the unique way that the entire product is presented, even if it never reaches its full potential and all the pieces never quite fit together.

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