ByKim Bell/Aug. 13, 2021 11:11 am EST
Since its debut at Cannes in 2018 (via Deadline), "Under the Silver Lake" has divided audiences into two camps: those who see meaning in every decision made by writer-director David Robert Mitchell and those who, well, don't. But whatever your opinion is about how successfully this neo-noir dark comedy delivers its ultimate meaning (if, indeed, it even has one singular point to make), it's safe to say that the film — both thematically and in its painstaking attention to detail — delivers quite a bit for fans and critics to digest.
"Under the Silver Lake," with its lethargic lead, surrealist scenes, eccentric characters and wardrobe, downright labyrinthian plot, and intentionally stifling depiction of the general malaise, sexism, and superficiality of 2011 L.A., feels a bit like what would happen if David Lynch and Federico Fellini were tasked with creating a performance art piece based on T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland." Or, as Reddit user u/Feline_good420 more succinctly put it — there's"lots to unpack here."
Let's begin then, shall we?
Down the Rabbit hole
First, a brief refresher on how David Robert Mitchell kicks off his perplexing promenade into the abyss: "Under the Silver Lake" begins by introducing viewers to its Kurt Cobain-worshipping, shower-ignoring, and foul-smelling lead, Sam (depicted with unnerving ease by Andrew Garfield). On a day we're meant to believe is much like every other in this deadbeat protagonist's life, Sam happens to meet and share a kiss with his neighbor and very own manic pixie L.A. dream girl, Sarah (Riley Keough).
Unfortunately, just as things begin heating up between them, her two roommates return (with a mysterious hipster pirate in tow) and she cuts their evening short by telling him to come back and see her the following day. However, when Sam returns to her apartment, Sarah's nowhere to be found and neither are her roommates. It seems like they all just up and stole away (or were stolen away) in the middle of the night, leaving behind nothing but a bit of baffling graffiti and a shoebox of curious belongings, which Sam later witnesses another beautiful trio of L.A. women remove from the empty apartment.
From there,Sam's quest to track down his fantasy woman, which takes him down a rabbit hole littered with red and not-so-red herrings, dead dogs, ominous encounters, underground tunnels, and messages hidden in indie-pop songs and on the backs of cereal boxes, begins in full. At the end of his adventure, Sam is left both vindicated (it turns out his obsession with secret messages and codes was justified) and heartbroken (he doesn't get the girl, because the girl is in an underground tomb bunker with a middle-aged billionaire and the rest of his death cult of women).
There's nothing to solve, you know?
In endeavoring to derive an all-encompassing thesis from Mitchell's strangely deliberate yet meandering film, it's tempting to fall for the very bait Sam does. But trying to "decode" Mitchell's intentionally heavy-handed use of barely hidden pop-cultural and literary references (e.g. Sam's quest begins with him following a group of women around in an actual white rabbit convertible) doesn't reveal the film's meaning so much as reinforce it.
Oddly enough, Mitchell repeatedly tells viewers exactly what he's saying in "Under the Silver Lake." The problem is that by the time he does, we don't notice it because we're already too focused on trying to figure out if Sam is paranoid, delusional, or actually right for thinking that, as he himself says, "Maybe there are people out there who are more important than us, more powerful, communicating things in the world that are meant for only them and not for us." In forcing the viewer to watch the film through the perspective of the obsessive and (possibly) delusional Sam, the "It Follows" director makes viewers part of his greater psychological experiment.
Will the viewer listen to Sam's "Bar Buddy" (Topher Grace), who all but beats him over the head with the film's central theme when he casually notes that, "We crave mystery 'cause there's none left," or will we be seduced by the promise of a greater mystery? In other words, will we also be pulled in by all the many Reddit-ready red herrings and references that Mitchell deliberately places throughout his otherwise straightforward lament of a movie?
Getting to the bottom of things
Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images
On the one hand, it should be easy to see Mitchell's magic trick for what it is. Grace's "Bar Buddy" isn't even the only character who explicitly lifts the proverbial curtain. One night over drinks, a struggling actress and performance artist credited as "Balloon Girl" (Grace Van Patten) also tells Sam, "There's nothing to solve, you know? It's silly, wasting your energy on something that doesn't matter." On the other hand, this isn't the answer Sam's looking for, and after having invested so much into his quest already, it isn't the one viewers are looking for either.
This refusal to see what's really there in a desperate effort to prove "what's reallyreally there" comes to a head when Sam meets "The Songwriter"(Jeremy Bobb). A grotesque, crypt keeper-like incarnation of the machine of capitalism, The Songwriter is someone who, asBright Wall/Dark Room writer Ethan Warren points out, acts "as a fever dream avatar of all the contemptuous greed that powers the global entertainment complex"and "makes literal all of Sam's amorphous anxieties." As a character, The Songwriter makes clear to both Sam and the viewer that there's nothing to be gained but disappointment and disillusion from continuing to attempt to get to the bottom of things. "Your art, your writing, your culture,"he says,"is the shell of other men's ambitions."
Be careful what you search for
Both Sam and the viewers watching "Under the Silver Lake" are told, over and over again, that there's simply "nothing to see here." However, at the same time, we're also being fed irresistible bread crumbs that suggest there very much is something to see. In fact, when Sam eventually locates Sarah, the various conspiracies he so easily convinces himself are real actually turn out to be. What's not real — to Sam's dismay, but perhaps the audience's relief— is the story he told himself about a damsel in distress lying in wait for him to rescue her. Sarah doesn't want his help because, as she reminds both him and the audience, "... You hardly know me." The hidden conspiracy Sam "uncovers" ultimately tracks, but the meaning he creates, believes in, and is motivated by, does not.
This, perhaps, is the film's biggest twist. In vindicating his protagonist's paranoias but destroying the last few shreds of dignity required to drive such conviction, Mitchell brings us to a horrifyingly bleak conclusion: the real danger in searching for meaning in all the wrong things (fame, wealth, becoming, as Sam says, "someone who mattered") isn't that we won't find it — but that we will."Under the Silver Lake" suggests that although, as Socrates said, the "unexamined life" may not be "worth living," the over-examined life might also expose you to the truths that kill you.
From anti-heroes to superheroes
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Whether you're a die-hard fan of David Robert Mitchell's disturbingly inverted noir homage or find more than a few of his attempts at commentary, like his repeated calling-out of the misogyny that powers Hollywood,paradoxically unsuccessful, "Under the Silver Lake" is undeniably a film that stays with you. It confirms that Mitchell is one of the most unique filmmakers working today, which just makes the subject and genre of his next project all the more interesting to consider.
The filmmaker's next movie, currently titled "Heroes & Villains" (via Variety), will mark his foray into the almighty superhero genre. While thatmay seem, at first glance, like a far cry from the societal investigation and indictment that is "Under the Silver Lake," it's possible that Mitchell is planning to bring something very new to the superhero world. As IndieWire reporter Tyler Hersko points out, "If anyone could breathe fresh air into the field [of superheroes], it just might be Mitchell." After all, if you squint hard enough, Sam in "Under the Silver Lake" does seem reminiscent of a kind ofpre-Disney+Loki(Tom Hiddleston), at least insofar as he clearly believes himself to be "burdened with glorious purpose" — despite all the evidence to the contrary.
Though Sam uncovers the truth, his pursuit for answers is ultimately meaningless; he is powerless in a world manipulated by an elite coven of wealthy industrialists, and life is pointless.Who was the owl lady in Under the Silver Lake? ›
Under the Silver Lake (2018) - Karen Nitsche as Owl's Kiss - IMDb.What was the plot of the movie Under the Silver Lake? ›
Under the Silver Lake is a 2018 American neo-noir black comedy written, produced and directed by David Robert Mitchell. Set in 2011 Los Angeles, it follows a young man (Andrew Garfield) investigating the sudden disappearance of his neighbor (Riley Keough), only to stumble upon an elusive and dangerous conspiracy.How much did it cost to make under the Silver Lake? › What does dying by mistake mean? ›
The term accidental death is defined as any death that occurs as the result of an accident. These types of death are only deemed accidental if it was not intended (suicide), expected, or foreseeable (illness).What is the male gaze in Under the Silver Lake? ›
Under The Silver Lake uses the Male Gaze to criticise how society uses and abuses female bodies to obtain and maintain control.What happened to EDA's arm? ›
What happened to Eda's arm? Eda's right arm disintegrated into dust in "King's Tide", but that was because Raine Whispers only wanted to save her from disintegrating into dust. Raine Whispers did that to Eda Clawthorne just to save her life.What happens to the owl Lady? ›
Edalyn "Eda" Clawthorne is the deuteragonist of The Owl House. She ran away from home as a teenager after being cursed by her older sister, eventually becoming the most-wanted criminal and the most powerful wild witch on the Boiling Isles, until her curse ended up weakening her completely.Who is EDA's grandmother owl House? ›
Gwendolyn Clawthorne | The Owl House Wiki | Fandom.What did Libby see in the lake in what lies below? ›
What is the What Lies Below plot twist? Libby tells John that Michelle lied about her age—suggesting she may be too old to have a baby—and John gets mad. Then Libby sees John and Michelle having sex, and sees some weird scales on John. It's as if he's some sort of demonic mermaid.
In the film's original ending Zeke, instead of Jack, turns out to be the antagonist. He and Carly fly over a Hawaiian volcano when Zeke suddenly confesses his crimes.Who is behind Silver Lake? ›
Silver Lake (investment firm)
|Founders||Jim Davidson Glenn Hutchins Roger McNamee David Roux|
|Headquarters||Menlo Park, California, United States|
The Silver Lake Reservoir was last drained in 2008, when it was still being used to store drinking water, to eliminate water contaminated by a sunlight-triggered carcinogen.How deep is the water in Silver Lake? ›
Silver Lake is a 104.3 acre lake with a maximum depth of 51 feet and average depth of 24 feet. The lake watershed, or area that drains to the lake, is 970 acres and is heavily urbanized. Silver Lake is fed by three streams which enter on the north side of the lake.How deep is lake Silver Lake? ›
Silver Lake is a 516 acre lake located in Kenosha County. It has a maximum depth of 44 feet. Visitors have access to the lake from public boat landings. Fish include Musky, Panfish, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike, Walleye and Catfish.What are natural causes of death? ›
Simply put, a “natural” death is one that occurs due to an internal factor that causes the body to shut down, such as cancer, heart disease or diabetes. It means there was no external reason for the death, such as a traumatic injury.What are the two types of dying? ›
There are two types of death that can be declared: Heart/respiratory death and brain death. The first type of death means an irreversible stopping of heart and lung function, whereas brain death means an irreversible stopping of brain function.What does dying to mean in slang? ›
to be extremely eager to have or do something: I'm dying to hear your news. I'm dying for something to eat.Who is the main character in Under the Silver Lake? ›
History. British feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey described the concept of the "male gaze" in her 1973 essay "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema," which was published in 1975 in the film theory magazine Screen.
Traditionally, the male is given the strong position as the gazer, while the woman is locked in her predetermined role that of the beautiful, silent, submissive, gazed upon. Women poets refuse to adhere to the gendered ekphrastic tradition and the under-representation of women in ekphrastic poetry.Why does EDA turn into the owl beast? ›
Eda and Lilith have a fight outside the castle, during which Lilith accidentally reveals that she was the one who cursed Eda. With Luz's life on the line, Eda uses up her magic, causing her to transform fully into her owl beast form.Is EDA the owl Lady? ›
Whenever Eda doesn't take her elixir, she transforms into a giant, scary owl-demon, hence her nickname, "The Owl Lady". In this form, she has a feral mind and can quickly climb and punch through walls, but is sensitive to bright lights and retains her fascination with shiny objects.Are EDA's parents alive? ›
It is Hande's moment to shine as Eda, as she discovers the truth about her parents' death, and has the boldness to confront both Alptekin and Kadir, the contractor responsible for the actual collapse of the wall that crushed them.Does EDA get a Sigil? ›
Eda with no coven sigil thing | Fandom. Okay but if you look close, Eda doesn't have the Bard coven sigil on her wrist near the end of the episode even tho it hinted that she got it.Is EDA or Lilith older? ›
Lilith is a tall, slender middle-aged woman in her mid to late forties (two years older than Eda).Why did the owl end up with big eyes? ›
Leaving Rabbit aside, he pushed Owls head far into his body. Angrily, he shook him and shook him. Owl was so scared that his eyes grew larger and larger. Finally Raweno pulled at Owls ears until they were sticking up from his head, before placing him roughly back onto his branch.Who is the father of Eda's daughter? ›
Kiraz (episodes 40–52), played by Maya Başol. She is the daughter of Serkan and Eda. Burak Balcı (episodes 40–52), played by Sinan Helvacı. A close friend of Eda who is secretly platonically in love with her, gets along really well with Kiraz.Who is EDA's ex husband? ›
One of The Owl House's most prominent fan theories has been that the character of Edalyn Clawthorne (Wendie Malick) was once briefly married to Stan Pines (Alex Hirsch), aka Grunkle Stan, from Gravity Falls, which itself ran for two seasons on Disney Channel and Disney XD from 2012 to 2016.What is Lilith's palisman name? ›
The Raven Staff is the unnamed raven palisman wielded by Lilith Clawthorne.
Duemmler also reveals the blue light enabled Libby to breathe under water, and she smiles in the cell when she realizes that.What is the big secret revealed at the end of What Lies Beneath? ›
Instead, the finale reveals Norman killed missing student Madison Frank to hide their affair, then submerged her body in a river near the Spencer's home. This is far from the only truth lurking below: Evidence tying Norman to the murder lies under the lake nearby.What happened to Libby at the end of What Lies Below? ›
The ending of What Lies Below gives viewers no reason to think Libby won't survive, as in the closing moments she is smiling from her water-tank prison. However, if she lives, it will likely be as one of John's fish-human hybrids, bearing him and the rest of his species children.Who is the monster in silver bullet? ›
In Silver Bullet Reverend Lowe is the werewolf and he tells Marty that he kills certain people for a reason. He says the people whom he kills were going to waste their bodies anyway, therefore he took them and sent their souls to heaven.Why is Sliver movie rated R? ›
Content: -3 Excessive sex, violence, immorality, and/or worldview problems. (Sometimes excessive content such as violence is in otherwise redemptive movies.)Who was boy in silver bullet? ›
But, when a young wheelchair-using boy named Marty (Corey Haim) encounters a werewolf one night, the pieces begin to come together. Along with his sister and Uncle Red (Gary Busey), Marty begins a mission to capture the werewolf once and for all.
In 1907, the Los Angeles Water Department built the Silver Lake Reservoir, named for LA Water Commissioner Herman Silver, giving the neighborhood its name.Does Silver Lake still exist? ›
Silver Lake is a reclaimed lake located immediately east of De Smet, on the north side of U.S. Highway 14.Is Silver Lake a real place? ›
Is Silver Lake a real place? Yes – there are actually three places across real-life Colorado known as Silver Lake. Specifically, the Silver Lake in The Last of Us is believed to be the lake west of Boulder, given the location of the University of Eastern Colorado in the game.Can you swim in Silver Lake? ›
Swimming is restricted to the bathing beach area and only when life guards are on duty. Lake Swimming: With advance approval of Park Management, one (1) swimmer may swim across the Lake when accompanied by a row boat manned by one (1) qualified SLE Lifeguard.
November 20, 1980, was a calm day at Louisiana's Lake Peigneur, located about nine miles north of Vermilion Bay in the Gulf of Mexico, until a Texaco oil drill bit struck a large salt dome beneath the water, causing a cataclysmic disaster.What caused the lake to disappear? ›
Lakes are vanishing on every continent for the same reasons: excessive water diversion from rivers and reservoir over-pumping. While many bodies of water go through natural disappearance and reappearance cycles, others, on the other hand, never reappear once they're gone.Is Silver Lake a man made lake? ›
The reservoir was planned and constructed alongside the city-shaping aqueduct that brought water flowing into Los Angeles from the Owens Valley in 1913. Completed in 1908, Silver Lake was built to ensure the city had access to a three-week supply of water in case the aqueduct should at any point fail.When did Silver Lake dry up? ›
Silver Lake was dry from 1922 to 1950, refilled to its highest recent level in 1958, and became dry again in August 1961. The long-term fluctuation of water levels and other influences of climate change are clearly a potential influence on periodic western movements of bison.Is Silver Lake shrinking? ›
While the "official" size of Silver Lake is 690 acres, it is currently smaller than that due to the dune encroachment. Scrutiny of satellite imagery shows that since the early 1990s, over 100 feet of lake surface has been lost along the northern portion of the dune/lake interface.What is the deepest body of water in Florida? ›
Deep Lake (Florida)
|Location||Big Cypress National Preserve, Collier County, Florida, US|
|Basin countries||United States|
1. The blue beauty of Crater Lake extends beyond its depth. At 1,943 feet deep, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in America. Famous for its beautiful blue color, the lake's water comes directly from snow or rain -- there are no inlets from other water sources.Are there fish in Silver Lake? ›
Fishing: Silver Lake is a balanced and productive fishery providing angling for largemouth bass, walleye, northern pike and several species of panfish. Dense beds of aquatic vegetation, particularly at the north and south ends, provide excellent habitat for bass and other predator and prey fish species.What is the ending of below the fold? ›
By the end of the story, without spoiling too much, the only true closure we receive is that of David and Lisa's past together. The heroes of our story aren't as heroic as they hope to be; they're convinced of their suspect's guilt, but don't have anything to back it up.What happens to Vic at the end of deep water? ›
The major change in the ending for Deep Water's book sees Vic return home to Melinda in a rage, where he violently strangles her to death. At the same moment, Don arrives at their house with a policeman, who takes Vic away to pay for his crimes.
In the end, Deep Water is a twisted tale of a toxic marriage in which they finally demonstrate their love, renew their passion, and reach a climactic, unifying agreement wherein the core couple is complicit in each other's immorality: Vic by Melinda's infidelity, and Melinda by Vic's homicides.What happens at the end of deep water book? ›
When Melinda tells Vic that she has spoken to Wilson, he realizes what has happened and strangles Melinda to death, just before Wilson and a policeman arrive at the couple's house. The book ends with the cop walking out into the sunlight with a grinning Vic.Why did she smile at the end of what lies below? ›
Michelle was his first, presumably, and now he's moved on to Libby. Duemmler also reveals the blue light enabled Libby to breathe under water, and she smiles in the cell when she realizes that.What happens in the end of beneath? ›
Amy stabs Vanessa, unaware she is her mother, in order to kill "the monster". In the last scene, Christy scatters Vanessa's ashes into a lake. Amy takes a picture and there is a vision of Vanessa prior to her accident, staring at her killer.What happens in the ending of lies beneath? ›
Instead, the finale reveals Norman killed missing student Madison Frank to hide their affair, then submerged her body in a river near the Spencer's home. This is far from the only truth lurking below: Evidence tying Norman to the murder lies under the lake nearby.Why did Vic burn his fingers in Deep Water? ›
It's a little attractive that the inventor of drone warfare, Vic Van Allen, has the mental forethought to burn his fingers on a hot cookie sheet in order to provide himself with a time-stamped alibi for when the police show up.Why does vic have snails? ›
Hulu's 2022 film Deep Water primarily uses the snails in close-up shots to provide an erotic, slimy metaphor for Vic's substitution for sexual passion with his wife, with the gastropods proving that Vic is passionate about something – it's just not his wife.Does Vic ever get caught? ›
She even arranges for Vic and Don to arrive at the site of Tony's death in order to catch Vic red-handed, but the novel takes a different and darker turn: Vic races home and strangles Melinda to death, and is arrested.What is the main point of the story Deep Water? ›
Deep Water is about the writer's journey of overcoming the fear of water, which is deeply rooted in him since childhood. The author started fearing water since the age of four. It starts when he was visiting California with his father. He visits a beach where a wave knocks him down and sweeps over him.What is the positive message in Deep Water? ›
Deep water conveys msge that NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE IN THIS WORLD IF WE TRY HARD TO ACHIEVE THAT . The story “Deep Waters” tells us how the writer overcame his fear of water and learned swimming through sheer determination and willpower. He had developed a terror of water since childhood.
The Deep Water lesson tells us about the measures taken by the author to overcome his fear. One great lesson we can acquire from the William Douglas Deep Water is how to win over fear with the help of enrol strength of mind and willpower.Who is the real killer in Deep Water? ›
Well, short answer: no. In the novel Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith, Don Wilson deduces that Vic has been murdering Melinda's lovers and gets in contact with her himself. As Melinda discovers that her husband is a killer, she confirms to Vic that she has spoken to Wilson and he realises what has happened.Is Deep Water Based on a true story? ›
Deep Water is an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's 1957 novel of the same name. Highsmith is the author of several books that have been turned into films, including Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley, but there is nothing in Deep Water that is based on anything but Highsmith's imagination.Who is doing the killing in Deep Water? ›
By Deep Water's ending, Vic is technically responsible for the deaths of three characters. Although Don was close to finally exposing Vic's crimes to the police, Vic returned home to yet another Deep Water twist: Melinda had burned Tony's licenses, thus helping cover up his murder.