@zvd wrote:There seems to be two portals that connects the three plots of the movie, right?
I'm not sure what you mean. Axxon N, the longest running radio show, seems to be the cursed story which is continuing. After we see Man 1 and Woman 1's version of it, Lost Girl winds up in it, in the same room, only the lamp is not there, only its reflection on her TV screen. Then she seems to be watching the movie with us and part of what happens is that Nikki is seen walking into the doorway into Axxon N, and next thing she sees herself in the past rehearsing at the moment that version of herself was told about the noise, which was herself in the future; so at that point she's caught in the curse of Axxon N and then Kingsley explains it, sort of.
Axxon N connects Nikki to Sue, and one should decide if the main character is Nikki turning into Sue to find a solution to her problems or the opposite, which would be Sue getting conscious that she's not a Hollywood star and lives in the Inland Empire.
It looks to me as if once Nikki is caught in the curse, she becomes her character Sue. She is still Nikki, as she screams to the man she thinks is Devon in bed, but at that point Sue's world has enveloped her, so when she runs to the house of Sue's world and is caught there, she seems to be snooping around investigating the place. So I think she has retained her identity as Nikki inwardly but can do nothing but interact with the world she is in until she discovers a way out of it.
The cigarette burn is the other portal, where Sue connects herself with the Lost Girl. Once again, Sue might be a creation from the Lost Girl who's dealing with her inner demons, as the Lost Girl can be a way for Sue to understand her role in Inland Empire.
I know the characters in the learning to see scene are played by Dern and Gruszka, but I wouldn't be sure that they are Sue and Lost Girl. They don't act like them. And the scene, in b/w, also includes the record player which introduced the Axxon N show at the beginning. It has been proposed, and I think this is interesting and worth considering, that this is a separate Dern character, the one who always appears in blue (though the color can't guide us in the b/w scene). In any case, the character in the scene following, with the weird foreshadow camera angles and the dramatic musical crescendo is wearing blue and seems to have just looked through the silk. I don't see it on my set but others have said that they can see the remains of the silk experiment around her. The other shots that are cut alternately with it are of someone else, I think Nikki playing the part of Sue but aware that she is Nikki. The next part of the movie has to do with the husband and pregnant wife in that house. They are never called by name, but the woman has in common with Sue from OHIBT that she had an affair with someone other than her husband. That is, maybe she could be called Sue, but in a different telling of the story.
What has happened is that the movie has moved into a place where people don't know what to call Dern's character, Nikki, Sue, or someone else. The characters have merged because Nikki has been trapped in the role with no one on the outside to confirm who she is. Somewhat the same thing Lost Girl is going through in her isolation in the hotel room.
It's interesting to observe that in the end of the movie, when Sue is running the sidewalks, she sees a faded Axxon N sign with no door available. She seems to be familiar with it, without making a sense out of that moment. I believe that this is one of the key moments of the movie, that actually brings Sue back to reality and helps her to understand that she isn't a movie star and she might be a creation from the poland girl.
I also think it is key but infer something different from it: This is the point where the two characters who have merged separate again (across the street another version of her is laughing at her). She sees the Axxon N sign but this time she can't be trapped by it because there is nowhere to go to become trapped. Just as in the rehearsal scene where she became trapped, she is looking at a future version of herself across the street, a possible future. The two chase each other in circles around the block a few times as present becomes future etc. and at a certain point we can no longer follow which one is which because they show up at unexpected places. One is stabbed on the north side of the street in front of 6331 Hollywood Blvd. and the other drops the screwdriver directly across the street in front of Lamour's star in front of 6332. Then for no explainable reason I can see, one or the other of them "” and this is why we can't tell "” is seen limping up Vine street to cross diagonally to limp over to where the other one was stabbed. How did she get down south on Vine to head up toward Hollywood? That is not shown and we don't know "” and neither does the phantom. The phantom seems to know only about Sue because it is her story that is cursed. When she dies, he thinks the coast is clear to invade room 47 which has been housing the rabbits who have been manipulating Sue's story for the benefit of Lost Girl. Unknown to him, Nikki, who seems also to be dead, is still able to perform Sue, so she then makes contact with Lost Girl and moves in for the kill. Her hand was clean when she hugged Kingsley but when she reached into the drawer, the LB was back, big and bold. She brought Sue back to life through her acting, and Sue killed the phantom.
From this moment, she accepts her fate, ignoring her wishes to insist on beign a movie star and focus on dealing with whatever keeps the Lost Girl trapped.
I agree but I would call her Nikki, as above. Kingsley calls her Nikki. So we could say either that when Sue died, her after life took on the appearance of her being Nikki the actress and that her life had only been a movie, or that there really was a Sue, in the sense that she was someone who could be thought of, a character, and also that there always had been an actress following her steps, performing her.
I've read opinions that points Nikki as the main/real character of IE, but this particular moment of the movie makes it look like the real person is the Lost Girl.
I think they are all characters in IE and in that sense they are all equally real. But yes, we could say that Nikki, then Sue, etc. are all people Lost Girl saw on television, but then, if she is real, what happened to her story? She seems to walk downstairs into a different movie. And why is the Dern character story still happening during the credits? Woman 1 was left sitting on the couch, the Dern character in blue was sitting the same way in the rain, then also sitting on the couch at the end when Nikki finishes turning her head to where the visitor is pointing. Then, at the party, she's still there in that dress but joined by Nastasha Kinski. Her story continues to reflect the one we just saw (she blows kisses and laughs). So the characters all seem to me to encompass each other.
btw: I couldn't figure where to put this but you started talking about portals and there is another one that opens from the side door in Smithy's House. That's the one used by the man in the green coat, the phantom, and finally by Lost Girl. (And Dern's character in MTTH.) Maybe that is the same one you are calling Axxon N?