Paranoia: Under the Silver Lake is a Dizzying, if Over-Long Puzzle Film
Like Mitchell's last film, It Follows, the film seems to exist in a world where past and present exist at the same time, but Silver Lake uses that imagery to make a point.
In this age of franchise filmmaking, brand recognition, and cinematic universes, it's often refreshing to find a truly original idea at the theater. That makes it doubly disheartening that David Robert Mitchell's conspiracy theory head trip Under the Silver Lake got dumped on VOD after a polarizing Cannes premiere last year and a twice-delayed release by studio A24. The film is frustrating, fascinating, and at least 30 minutes too long — but an ultimately rewarding slice of absurdity. Its failure to launch says more about the state of the movie industry than the film's story ever could.
Following Sam (Andrew Garfield), an aimless young man faced with eviction but seemingly not caring, as he spends his days spying on his neighbors and having casual sex. One night, Sam becomes infatuated with Sarah (Riley Keough), a mysterious young woman. When Sarah disappears the next morning, Sam wanders Los Angeles in search of her, finding clues among hobo codes, pop songs, cereal boxes, and video games.
Like Mitchell's last film, It Follows, the film seems to exist in a world where past and present exist at the same time, but Silver Lake uses that imagery to make a point. The film is a literal pop culture explosion, with references to classic Hollywood, grunge bands and even old Nintendo Power magazines just to name a few. It uses this imagery to craft an intricate conspiracy while simultaneously poking fun at the concept of conspiracy theories in general. The film takes many leaps into the surreal, but never goes into full Lynchian territory, instead maintaining an ironic detachment from its mostly compelling, occasionally frustrating narrative. Under the Silver Lake isn't perfect, but I'm glad it will be able to finally find its audience. — Forest Taylor
Written and directed by: Robert David Mitchell // Starring: Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, Jimmi Simpson, Riki Lindhome, Zosia Mamet, Callie Hernandez, Patrick Fischler, Don McManus, Grace Van Patten and Topher Grace // It is currently available on iTunes, Amazon Prime, Google Play and VUDU // // 139 minutes // Rated R