Mitchell is perhaps overly ambitious in terms of structure at times. There are more than a few plot holes in store and several characters dip in and out of the screen who rarely are given much development or backstory. 'Under the Silver Lake' feels like a film that has festered for a little too long in the mind of its creator, with a result that feels rather too far-fetched for its targeted attack on toxic masculinity and current culture to potently deliver. However, the soundtrack is always rapturously original and Michael Perry’s set design rakes in a pleasing plethora of quality scenes. Similarly, the skilfully sharp cinematography by Mike Gioulakis melds mellifluously with Mitchell’s penetrating script filled with keen and cutting observations of our symbolically saturated society.
Andrew Garfield takes a turn away from his comfortable awkwardly charming romantic lead role to star as the film’s plausibly pervy antihero whose quest to discover the truth behind the death of literal girl-next-door Sarah, played by Riley Keough, takes him to the cavernous underworld of LA’s elite. There’s an overwhelming sense of Mitchell’s malaise and abject abhorrence of modern life. An aged composer, supposedly the omnipotent overlord of all popular music to have existed since the 1960s comments that instant hits are "as common as tits and hamburgers" and amidst the film’s pseudo thriller fantasy lies a critique of patriarchy filtered through the unflinchingly objectifying gaze of its protagonist. It’s an admirable attempt, but the inconsistencies in tone fail to solidify the case against male driven hierarchies and it’s unclear whether we should be laughing along with the innumerable close ups of women’s buttocks or downright repulsed by the ironic lack of agency any of the women in the film are given.
'Under the Silver Lake' mercilessly mocks millennial trends; our protagonist finds himself at pop up parties filled with hosts who proffer him a pin from a cherry to "pop" a balloon affixed to a dancer’s leotard as they welcome him to "purgatory", elsewhere he is lead down to a crypt where ravers drink at tables made of headstones. The film is peppered with religious references and inverted iconocraphy as one of the Brides looms large as an occult looking Madonna in her black sparkled veil to deliver a mournful cover of LuLu’s ‘To Sir, with Love’. There are certainly more than moments of finesse and for the cynics 'Under the Silver Lake' undeniably provides apathetic answers, but the wildly surrealist slant it often slides into is less unnerving and more downright disheartening.