Lynch, a documentary about filmmaker David Lynch, only reaffirms what has already been widely accepted: David Lynch is weird.
Lynch was filmed around the time Lynch made Inland Empire. It starts on June 14, 2005, exactly one month before Bastille Day, which is simply one of the typically quirky topics found in this movie directed by “blackANDwhite.”
Who’s that? A good wager would be Lynch himself. Lynch spends a lot of time speaking into a self-held camera or cameras placed at odd angles on the floor and there’s no interaction or narration by anybody else who might be perceived as making a documentary.
The biggest value in this little film, featuring footage in various formats including incredibly poor cell phone-grade video and black-and-white segments, is its portrait of David Lynch as a human being. Lynch’s oeuvre is all about the ugliness that lies right beneath the surface of a beautiful world. Having grown up in Montana and lived in Philadelphia, Lynch has seen the “big sky” country and the cityscape; listening to his stories about dead, bloated cows and Philly police helps shed some light on his mindset.
Surprisingly, Lynch also includes what is perhaps one of the funniest moments of the year in movies. Lynch is on set, struggling to get people to follow simple instructions. He turns to face the camera and says, “What a load Einstein must have had. F****ng morons everywhere.” The combination of those words, his face (expressionless except for a wee gleam in his eye), and knowing there are thoughts going on in his mind about the ridiculousness of his situation make it a really hilarious, albeit brief, gem.
Lynch is a hands-on director; he’s not above grabbing tools and knocking holes into walls while building out sets. He’s also open to “painting” costumes.
What makes this amusing is that almost all of it is done while he’s in his trademark, clean-cut garb of white, collared dress shirt and khakis. He breaks out the blue jeans only rarely. Perhaps the best exterior clue to his interior condition is how neat his hair is; when he’s depressed, it gets mussed up, otherwise it stays well groomed.
There was a time during Inland Empire’s production when Lynch did fall into a period of depression, but that’s where Lynch loses its nerve and stumbles. The documentary touches on his getting depressed, but then lets it go, as if this eponymous film is afraid to venture into that particularly dark territory. There is an air of desperation, of struggling, but then it’s back to being upbeat (at least in Lynchian terms) and quirky.
Before you know it, Lynch is on set asking for a one-legged 16-year-old girl, a beautiful 23-year-old Eurasian girl, and a spider monkey. A pet spider monkey.
Lynch is really an opportunity lost. The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is mentioned on occasion, Lynch talks about how valuable meditation is, and most surprisingly, argues that creativity does not stem from suffering but rather from happiness. Who knew?
In the midst of it all, Lynch also starts up the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace.
Those topics would make for a wonderful documentary, something from the beautiful side of Lynch’s world. Lynch, the man, has impacted people’s lives in really diverse ways. How much more diverse can it get than traveling from the bizarre, macabre world of Blue Velvet to transcendental meditation and world peace?
The meditation and the foundation could have been this movie’s soul, putting Lynch in a totally new light and offering up something truly insightful. Instead, the foundation is minimized to a phone call about how the first donation to the foundation was from a young extra who donated her $50 in earnings.
The rest of Lynch is too standard and the antithesis of a truly Lynchian production. Instead of boldness, experimentation, and artistic expression, this Lynch is too narrowly focused and self-censored, leaving in too much of the stuff best left as supplemental features on a DVD.