Parents' Guide to

Under the Silver Lake

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Unusual, languid, cryptic, graphic Hollywood-set film noir.

Movie R 2019 139 minutes
Under the Silver Lake Poster Image

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Kids say (3):

This film noir plays out on a huge, unwieldy, everything-including-the-kitchen-sink canvas; it's bold and baffling, possibly great, but possibly a great folly. Under the Silver Lake -- David Robert Mitchell's follow-up to his stunning It Follows -- feels like a sophomore slump, even though it's actually Mitchell's third film (The Myth of the American Sleepover was his debut feature). It's like an effort to overcome writer's block by free-associating images and ideas and sticking them all in, without discernment or restraint. It's also a long movie, with many, many characters, some of whom occasionally return and others who are seen only once. First-time viewers might actually want to take notes.

But Mitchell's touch behind the camera is sure and confident, and he creates a wonderfully languid cityscape, filled with dreamers and oddballs. The wide, beautifully composed images create a mood that you almost want to breathe in, and the sound design -- and a fine score by Disasterpiece -- is delightfully mysterious and imaginative. Casting Garfield was a brilliant touch; his general amiability helps viewers latch on to this character and makes them want to continue following him, even as his adventures grow more and more bizarre -- and more starkly pessimistic. Under the Silver Lake leaves off with a bit of a strange, sour note, but it's not easily forgotten and perhaps cryptic enough to revisit.

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