Under the Silver Lake movie review - Aussieboyreviews


Can narcissistic personality disorder be diagnosed in movies, too? This cryptic movie about conspiracy theory may be lit up by its performances and looks, but it’s ridiculously confusing and ultimately pointless, yet somehow still genius.


Sam, a disenchanted and obsessive young man, finds a very mysterious and beautiful young woman swimming in his apartment’s pool one night. When she disappears without a trace the next morning, he searches L.A. for his missing neighbour and discovers an even more bizarre conspiracy.

Movie Images

Movie details

Director: David Robert Mitchell
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, Patrick Fischler, Riki Lindhome, Callie Hernandez, Wendy vanden Heuvel, Luke Baines, Jeremy Bobb
Writer: David Robert Mitchell
Release Date (Australia): 20 June 2019
Runtime: 139 minutes/2h 19m
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Country: USA
Language: English

CONTENT GUIDE (warning: May contain spoilers)

Themes (MA15+)

The film contains strong themes relating to mental illness and paranoia, and also features verbal and visual references to suicide and the killing of dogs.

Violence (MA15+)

The film contains punches, kicks, shootings and a scene in which a man’s face is bludgeoned with a guitar, accompanied by gory blood and injury detail. 

Coarse Language (M)

The film contains occasionally aggressive use of the word “f**k”, in addition to words such as “s**t”, “ass” and “d**k”.

Drug Use (M)

The film contains scenes in which people are depicted smoking marijuana.

Nudity (M)

The film features brief frontal female nudity, sexualised breasts nudity and a crude drawing scratched on a car of male genitalia.

Sex (MA15+)

The film contains graphic depictions of sexual acts and masturbation, as well as verbal sexual references.

mpaa rating

R (for strong sexual content, graphic nudity, violence, language throughout and some drug use)

Aussie boy's thoughts

This movie is cryptic, yet utterly confusing. Compelling, yet horrendously unwatchable. Genius, yet a hell of a let down. And unlikeable, yet a code-cracking masterpiece? Let’s just put it this way: unless you’re willing to watch yourself dive into a who-knows-how-long rabbit hole of confusion, to find that the overall “point” of the film (which the film ultimately admits) is that there is no point, just stay away from this one.

Under the Silver Lake is a mysterious neo-noir drama featuring Andrew Garfield as an obsessive, completely unlikable slacker who puts himself in the position of a sort of self-employed detective when a young woman who he finds swimming in his apartment block’s pool suddenly vanishes without a trace. His motive to care about finding this woman is that he thinks he was heading down the track of getting in her pants. Your reason to care about him finding this woman is because you just wanna know what the fuck happened and where she is. Anyway, you can basically sum up that the whole 2 hours is just his character blubbering around trying to crack a bunch of stupid codes, that you’re supposed to devote your precious time into finding more codes to crack.

Some audiences will just be impressed and watch this LA-set mystery-mess for its cinematography and soundtrack, both of which are absolutely fantastic and undeniably treat your eyes and ears. The movie almost plays out like a mystery-themed video game, in which the protagonist is slowly finding out more information that eventually leads him to the answer he is searching for. But when you consider the Under the Silver Lake’s strength in compelling you and leading you to desperately want all of your questions answered, the fact that it took so long and featured so many dumb plot points makes you regret getting yourself into this mess.

The film certainly ends with more questions than answers, with major plot points surrounding this seductive owl lady and an unidentified dog killer that end up being carelessly disposed of. By sprinkling boring codes around for you to try to analyse and break when you have better things to do, it’s painfully obvious how genius and how highly it sees itself as. Can movies be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, too? For the director of a psychological horror masterpiece to jump to creating this kind of movie, makes it even more of a disappointment that you shouldn’t waste your time, energy and effort on. But to be fair, it knows how to suck you in, and the cinematography, soundtrack, and use of songs are excellent.

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