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Monday, August 17, 2020

Under The Silver Lake (2019) | Short Review

Under The Silver Lake is almost explicitly a modern-day version of The Big Lebowski. The major difference is that Lebowski sacrificed the plot for humor, and Under The Silver Lake sacrificed the plot for tone and oddness. So, is there enough there to sustain the film? Barely.

Under The Silver Lake is an A24 movie starring Andrew Garfield and written & directed by David Robert Mitchell (It Follows). From the film's site, it's a "neo-noir [movie] about one man's (Andrew Garfield's) search for the truth behind [mysterious activities in Los Angeles, after his neighbor vanishes]."

Garfield is what pulled me into the movie, since I'm a huge fan of his portrayal of Spider-Man & Peter Parker, and the early nervousness and twitchiness he brought to that works well here. This time, it's just mixed with the deadbeat aspects of The Dude in Lebowski. That also means the main difference between the two is one is incredibly zen, and the other is more engaged with the story around him.

So, while Garfield's character (Sam) moves the plot along well, the movie is still about 20 minutes too long and has a lot of loose ends. A moving plot that doesn't matter...still doesn't matter, so it's going to leave a lot of people frustrated. Those who get something out of Under The Silver Lake will probably point to the score, which has some tunes straight out of the Golden Age of Hollywood, Garfield's performance (the entire cast is solid and along for whatever Mitchell throws at them), and the philosophical angst that comes from chasing ghosts.

My favorite scene is when Sam meets a songwriter (Jeremy Bobb) who may have made all the hit songs in the world, and may have put secret messages in them. Certainly not a new idea, but the revelatory angle taken with it, when mixed with a character as lost Sam becomes a standout moment of the film. If nothing else, look at that scene, gaze at the other beautiful shots of L.A, including the Griffith Observatory, and listen to the score. If you want more context for the great moments in Under The Silver Lake, you may not get it, but the full movie is available to watch as well. 

3/5

For a much more engaging take on the movie, and everything Garfield brings to it outside of his rock solid performance, please watch the channel Full Fat's video on Under The Silver Lake.

Also, what are your favorite Noir and Neo-Noir movies?

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