In which the conspiracy uncovered by burnout loser Sam (an extremely likeable Andrew Garfield) turns out to be true. Gathering clues from Topher Grace, the Mulholland Dr. diner guy with the eyebrows, a pop-up local rock band, the Homeless King (David Yow!) and hospital boss Barrow from The Knick (in heavy old-age makeup as a secret apex popular songwriter), Sam discovers that his hot neighbor Riley Keough disappeared into a bunker to die (eventually) with a famous rich guy, and that he is not going to rescue her in the end.
I deny the Southland Tales comparisons, will happily loop this in with Big Lebowski and Inherent Vice, a trilogy of hapless L.A. detectives with different styles and tones. This was hilarious and terrific to look at, and probably warrants a rewatch, as well as catching up with his first film during the presumably long wait for his next, since this seems to have flopped.
Secret owls on the dollar bill:
Under the Silver Lake dunks on its dipshit of a protagonist (beautifully played by Garfield as haplessness incarnate, right down to the way he walks and runs throughout; that puppy-dog quality no doubt gets in the way of folks recognizing that he’s meant to be kind of awful)… but it’s also achingly sincere about the innate human desire to believe there’s some secret code that will reveal the key to everlasting happiness, or at least enable some basic understanding of what the hell’s going on.
Matt Singer in Screencrush:
It doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist to see the film is poking fun at Sam, and at the urge to search for buried meanings in things in order to avoid the painful reality staring you in the face. And Sam’s sexuality is part of that; Mitchell openly compares his hunt for life’s little Easter eggs to the act of masturbation. Some viewers seemed to miss the joke altogether — even though Under the Silver Lake is a movie where former Spider-Man actor Andrew Garfield buys an old issue of The Amazing Spider-Man that then gets stuck to his hand.