By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
My job’s taking me out to Los Angeles on the regular, and one thing you learn quickly is Silver Lake is both where all the hip/trendsters are (can Zoe Kravitz actually be a hipster?) and where half of the most interesting restaurants in the city are.
Don’t knock that avocado toast ’til you try it.
Under the Silver Lake steeps us both the feel of Silver Lake and the somewhat pathetic life of a conspiracy theorist played by Andrew Garfield, who just might have happened onto an honest-to-God real conspiracy in between all the casual sex and scene-hopping.
David Robert Mitchell has hopped genres in his first three films from a youth drama (The Myth of the American Sleepover) to an acclaimed horror film (It Follows) to now a modern day, hipster-inflected film noir view of a hidden LA underworld of sex and death and the rich and famous.
The outcome is a funny, colorful, often nightmarish, energetic, wonderfully absurd, and kind of rotten at the core portrait of privilege up and down the ladder where the plot is kind of beside the point but not actually all that hard to follow for this kind of thing.
I really kind of dug Under the Silver Lake‘s vibes and its overall commitment to following this particular not terribly likable character through all of the escalating craziness and twists and turns. It’s definitely the kind of film where you sit back and let it take you where it wants you to go.
Garfield is as good as always, although, dare I say it, a bit miscast (which we’ll get into). However, I really enjoyed his reaction shots to all the craziness and his overall demeanor in this- he creates a memorable and lived-in character that you never tire of, even if you maybe should.
The film’s not sexist per say (despite a camp of reviewers who label it as such), as we’re clearly not meant to root for Garfield, but it is a bit hard for him to stray all the way into unlikable (I actually cheered when he went after some asshole kids with his fists, which I’m not sure was the intention). This undercuts how pathetic we’re supposed to see him as. Maybe old Amazing Spider-Man and this film costar Topher Grace would have made a more compelling pick- somebody who can add a veneer of snivelling that the let’s be honest, the quite pretty Garfield can’t really.
While I know this wasn’t unintentional, the film really is quite long and meandering, like apparently of these cheeky LA noirs have to be (see: Inherent Vice). It got some negativity about its length out of Cannes (140 minutes) and apparently was going to be recut, but that doesn’t appear to have happened- oh well.
Under the Silver Lake is a cheeky modern film noir with a distinctly Los Angeles hipster vibe that you’re likely to be receptive to, despite it’s meandering length.
Under the Silver Lake (2019) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for dead animals and ‘Dog Killer’ graffiti
Take a Drink: for nudity
Take a Drink: for numerology and codes and conspiracy theories
Take a Drink: whenever somebody comments on Garfield’s smell
Do a Shot: for surprising bursts of violence from Garfield