Spider Man in the Hollywood Hills

David Robert Mitchell serves up a Los Angeles noir thriller in Cannes

by Richard Mowe

David Robert Mitchell: Curious about what really happens up in the Hollywood Hills
David Robert Mitchell: Curious about what really happens up in the Hollywood Hills Photo: Richard Mowe

Never the most talkative or lucid of directors, at least in public David Robert Mitchell is basking the kudos of finding his third feature film elevated to the glare of the Competition at the Cannes Film Festival.

He says his new film began with an overdose of caffeine when he and his wife were sitting at home looking up at the houses in the Hollywood hills and wondering “what really happens up there.”

He wrote the initial draft of Under The Silver Lake fast with the aim of making his version of an LA noir thriller - shades of Roman Polanski’s Chinatown.

David Robert Mitchell
David Robert Mitchell Photo: Richard Mowe

Spider Man actor Andrew Garfield takes the main role of Sam, who becomes obsessed with the circumstances surrounding the murder of a billionaire mogul and the kidnapping of a girl.

The tributes and references to cinema abound and happened naturally. Besides Polanski, discover a dash of Hitchcock there and a touch of David Lynch here. “I have a deep love for cinema and the film in a way is about Los Angeles and the way the city is understood through the history of cinema. The references just come to me as I am writing,” said Mitchell at his festival media encounter.

“The story does not really reflect my own personal feelings but elements of me will end up in the characters of both women and men,” he said.

He liked the idea of the Silver Lake district of the city because he appreciates the effect of water in films. “There is something incredibly beautiful about it and the emotions it reflects. Although we are not specific this is a period piece supposed to be taking place in the summer of 2011. It is a dark and distorted fantasy at a particular moment in time."

The director, who garnered attention with his first feature, It Follows, in 2015, took the Cannes main Competition slot (and therefore being in the running for the Palme d’Or) in his stride - “it’s great,” he said with a beaming smile.

Under The Silver Lake is due to release in New York and Los Angeles on 22 June with a general release thereafter.

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