NZIFF 51: Under The Silver Lake Director: David Robert Mitchell

David Robert Mitchell’s “comedic neo-noir mystery” is either a completely bonkers mess of a film, or a work of pure genius. Having sat through all 139 minutes of it, I’d say it is a bit of both.

Ok, here’s the plot: A thirty-something slacker named Sam (Andrew Garfield), living in the Silver Lake area of LA, spots a hot chick (Riley Keough), hangs out with her for a few hours, then discovers that she is missing on the following day. So, he sets out to find her.

Pretty straightforward, right?

First off, there is nothing straightforward about Under The Silver Lake.

Before the film has run its course it deals with any number of bizarre conspiracy theories, a possible serial killer (of pet dogs), a missing billionaire, a band called “Jesus & The Brides Of Dracula”, a man who claims to have written just about every hit song imaginable, an incoherent parrot, a secret message hidden on a breakfast cereal box and…a guy known as the “homeless king”.

And that’s just the stuff I can remember.

Oh yeah, there was also someone called the “Owl Woman”, who may have killed the owner of an underground comic book.

If you love obscure pop references and conspiracy theories, you’re gonna love this film.

Basically we follow Sam around as he searches for his missing girl, landing a various elite Hollywood parties along the way, accompanied by a very smart soundtrack, heavy on tunes from the 1990s…R.E.M’s What’s The Frequency, Kenneth? gets a particularly good play.

In the end, I found the film too long and too convoluted. This thing seriously needs a good editor! But, I have to say, for the most part, it was also a whole lotta fun, although trying to keep track of all the plot lines got tiresome, especially when most of them led nowhere.

A strange, flawed film…just the kind of beast one hopes to run into at a film festival.

Marty Duda