Try to imagine that Fight Club was made by David Lynch instead of Fincher. That is the best short description I can offer of what Under The Silver Lake is. Which is not what I have been expecting based on the trailer. I expected something quirky, strange, something reminiscent of the final act from the of A Beautiful Mind, filled with codes and conspiracy theories and paranoia. And this movie does deliver all these, but on an entirely different level. Truth be told, the trailer does as much justice to the movie as is possible for a 2 minute long thing. I mean, this movie would make just about the same amount of sense whether you watch it sober or drunk. But if possible, watch it sober and in a proper movie theatre. It is one of the best movies of the year, after all.
The thing is, I almost did not go see this movie. The trailer came out ages ago, so mostly I have forgotten about it. Then I discovered that it is being screened in my town but had to bail on it twice and seriously considered it to bail on it for the third time as well. Hell, I even thought of walking out on it one hour into the movie because I hated everything that I have saw that far. Now I am telling you that this is one of the best movies of the year. I have fought this movie. Long and hard. It has won me over. That is not an easy feat to achieve.
So what is this movie about? Well, it is about Sam, played by Andrew Garfield. Sam is a carefree dude that lives in LA and does basically nothing all day long, he just hangs out. He likes the ladies and the ladies like him back, he reads comics, plays guitar and videogames. His rent is overdue and so are his car payments, but these does not seem to bother him, except for the brief moments he is confronted about them. Then, one day, he encounters a girl that makes quite an impression on him, so much so, that when the girl suddenly disappears into thin air the very next day, Sam makes his mission to find her. Also, in the meantime, a famous philanthropist is gone missing and there is a mysterious dog killer on the loose.
From a technical point of view, the flick looks gorgeous. It has wide, steady shots, full, live colours. Also, the way the movie is shot, the camera setup and angles, is very reminiscent of the old Hollywood movies, from the 40’s and 50’s. The technics are adapted to modern sensibilities and standards, but the style itself is from that golden era. The story might feel like Lynch, but the visuals feel like Hitchcock. Same with the score. Unless there is some actual music played in the background, the soundtrack will also be reminiscence of the era of Bogart and Elizabeth Taylor. This homage to the golden era is also visible in the set design as there are many posters of old movies in the background, or on TV, when the characters are watching themselves a movie.
As I was walking home from the movie theatre, I was trying to put this movie in its place in my head. And the more I was thinking about it, the more satisfied I became about the entire experience that Under The Silver Lake has become to me. The final reveal and how just many questions have been answered in the movie did no longer matter. Here, the journey itself that Sam undertakes, together with the viewer, IS the final goal, not the destination. The only reason why I will not put this movie on the nr1. spot of best movies of 2018 list is that it is a very demanding, exhausting watch. And if you are in the wrong mood, or possibly just too tired, you will miss all that it has to offer. But all in all, this IS one of the best movies of 2018.