Under the Silver Lake: Your Art, Writing, and Culture are Meaningless


John DiPietro, Writer

“Under the Silver Lake” is the latest film by David Robert Mitchell, who directed “It Follows” back in 2014. While the movie “It Follows” was more of a horror flick, and a solid one at that, “Under the Silver Lake” is more of a noir or thriller with a few horror-like elements here and there. Andrew Garfield plays Sam, an aimless slum, who finds interest in a beautiful woman that he meets at his apartment’s swimming pool, but the next day, she mysteriously vanishes. Determined to find the girl that he just met, Sam undertakes a trippy journey to uncover the secrets in the endless hills of Silver Lake.

I won’t spoil any of the film’s story details, as it requires every bit of your attention as well as a few rewatches. Instead, I’ll talk about the technical aspects like the style and the directing which the average viewer may overlook. The movie is shot in a way that makes you feel like you’re watching a classic noir film: long one-take shots, hard push dolly shots, as well as some wide angles. The composition and framing of each scene feels purposeful and well thought out. Speaking of style, the neo-noir approach really works in this movie’s favor, and Mitchell conveys style and energy with every shot.

The story can seem like a garbled mess, but that actually works with the themes of the movie. Throughout the film, Andrew tries to find hidden messages and codes in writing, art and pop culture, adding more to the main mystery but at the same time contributing nothing. It’s one of the most interesting and entertaining parts of the film. Starting off as a simple missing person mystery and gradually escalating into something hilariously outlandish, “Under the Silver Lake” pokes fun at the idea of “subliminal messages” in our everyday media. To believe that all the art, writing, and culture that we consume has  deep meaning when sometimes it is nothing more than a simple paycheck for some “artist” out there is ridiculous, and the film leans hard into that. It makes a joke of theories and conspiracies that trouble the main character, who struggles to find the purpose and reason for it all. This is one of the most audacious and anti-Hollywood films I have had the pleasure of watching; without a doubt, “Under the Silver Lake” is an entertaining and surreal nightmare.