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Actress Nikki Grace takes the lead in a movie, unaware of the fact that it is based on an old Polish film and is supposed to be haunted. Her reality is turned upside down as filming starts and the visit from an alleged neighbour gives her somewhat of a hex.
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ďÖIf today was tomorrow, you wouldn't even remember that you owed on an unpaid bill. Actions do have consequences. And yet, there is the magic. If it was tomorrow, you would be sitting over there.Ē I would like to say that this sentence delivered by a not so friendly neighbour (Zabriskie) to actress Nikki Grace (Dern), makes as little sense as the movie, but somehow it all comes together in a very David Lynch way.
Let me start by explaining that Lynch uses a narrative technique called circular storytelling. By the sound of it you will have guessed that this is not a linear technique. Lynch hasnít told a story in a linear fashion since The Straight Story (1999). The irony of that title isnít lost on me. Imagine the storyline being bent from a straight line and into a circle. Picture this circle as a clock. Then disregard clockwise and counter clockwise theories. Instead picture a scenario where first we see whatís happening at 3, then at 9 followed by 7 and 1. Confusing isnít it? Then bind together the different storylines that way with a little dimensional twist. This movie is a complex and un-linear phenomenon.
The scary witchlike neighbour not only manages to confuse Grace, but she also predicts that Grace will get the part and that there will be a horrible murder. Grace informs her neighbour that there is no such thing in the script, but she is persistent. After ushering the neighbour out of her house things pan out pretty much as they were promised. She gets the role and starts rehearsing with Hollywood heartthrob Devon Berk (Theroux). He is known for his on-set romances, but is warned by his agent to not let anything happen with Grace. Her husband is a very powerful man with ties to some highly dangerous people. Already here we have a quite interesting premise, but there is more to come.
Somewhere in between the actual events and the filming everything is turned upside down by giving Graceís character Susan Blue more space. Itís hard to distinguish if this is all part of the filming or if in fact some kind of dimension shift has occurred. I leaned toward alternative number one while watching the film, but while reflecting I came to the conclusion that itís more close to alternative two.
The confusion is at its top when Susan returns to a scene where the rehearsal is interrupted, a scene that we already watched once, but that time through Graceís point of view. This time itís through Devonís point of view and this creates a scenario where both Grace and Susan is on the same sound stage, but without spotting the other. This is impossible unless we are dealing with a portal between two dimensions of time. If this sounds confusing then I wonít even start to try and explain the mute humanized rabbit sitcom that is intercut, and even blended in, with the rest of the movie.
Lynch has his favourite actors and actresses and once he has found someone he can work with he often tries to incorporate them into his new projects. So was true for Kyle McLaughlin (Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet, Dune). And he does so also in this film. Laura Dern acted for him in Twin Peaks and Wild at Heart (1990), and so did Grace Zabriskie. Justin Theroux starred in Mulholland Drive (2001).
Lynch told media that bits of this film were improvised and that he never intended for it to be a feature. He then wanted to turn it into a TV-series, just as he tried with Mulholland Drive, but his French backers once again thought that a feature length movie would be the best (and probably most profitable!) option. However this piece of art runs a little longer than the average feature. 180 minutes to be exact. This is still a must for any David Lynch fan, or average cinephile, and if you feel a little turned off by the length of it then break it down and see it in a couple of sittings. Be ready for some serious mind-blowing scenes.