By Mónica Delgado
The key in which Under the Silver Lake is developed lies in an opposite pole to It follows, the film which made David Robert Mitchell visible in Cannes, some years ago. Here, there’s no young people pursued by a killer entity, but a teen universe of raw atmosphere, which causes a humoristic effect. The idea of paranoia and conspiracy like in the classic tales of an imagined Thomas Pynchon’s California takes a cue of nonsense investigation and entanglement. Here, a young Andrew Garfield becomes attracted to a femme fatale in an undetermined time, between the 90’s and today.
Under the influence of anachronism, like in Pynchon’s novels, David Robert Mitchell seems to have made a younger sibling for Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice. In both films, the importance of its lead character’s atypical logic with the investigation is predominant, working on an investigation to find a dog-woman who appears and disappears in a strange map of the United States west coast. Both films are also related in the kind of staging that both filmmakers have decided for this detective fantasy, where juxtapositions and fades are primal, strange weathers and a soundtrack that support a time’s spirit.
David Robert Mitchell poses that his lead character’s investigation will also take a generational meaning. Andrew Garfield’s gaze seems to clash with the mysterious, animal-like behavior of other characters that cross his path and leave unusual clues about the woman and the mafia or group she seems to belong to. And again, like in the best Pynchon novels, a personal environment surrounding is favored, through cliché names for the places and characters, which transform Los Angeles in a joint of a new temporal and spatial dimension, something that Mitchell achieves in its totality.
If maybe Under the silver lake loses the pulse of originality of its first hour in its second half, especially when the cheap sci-fi and noir influenced investigation becomes a residue of new age philosophy (like in Inherent Vice as well), it is still an atypical experience about conspiracy comedies, something that places Mitchell as one of the most personal filmmakers in American genre cinema today.
Directing and script: David Robert Mitchell
Cinematography: Mike Gioulakis
Music: Rich Vreeland
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, Callie Hernandez, Topher Grace, Jimmi Simpson, Riki Lindhome, Summer Bishil, Zosia Mamet, Patrick Fischler, Laura-Leigh, Grace Van Patten, Allie MacDonald, Rex Linn, Sydney Sweeney, Adam Bartley, Don McManus, John Eddins, Jules Willcox, Nea Dune, Stephanie Moore, Pepi Sonuga, Izzie Coffey, Sky Elobar, Sibongile Mlambo, Jessica Makinson
Production company: Michael De Luca Productions / Stay Gold Features / Vendian Entertainment.
USA, 2018, 140 minutes