Interscope/ Dir. Jake Nava
By Sennah Yee
When I first heard Lana Del Rey, her squeals in Off to the Races made me squirm. I heard her again at a cottage, through tinny speakers on a splintery dock by a lake. Without even meaning to, I let the sun andSummertime Sadness sink into my skin. I was both bothered and completely absorbed by her gloom, her loungey Lolita look, her instagram-filtered videos. She was too much, I couldn't get enough.
High by the Beach is this hypnotic blend of minimal and extreme, reality and dream. Lana’s life and music have become surreal, cyclical, meta. And she knows it, she maybe even loves it. The video features her trying to escape a paparazzo in a helicopter looming like a vulture. The setting: a windy Malibu beach house Lana recently bought in real life to avoid paparazzi and stalkers.
High by the Beach is part self-fulfilling prophecy, part revenge fantasy. Featuring her new getaway in the video gives her a unique kind of power: no need to worry about people selling blurry pictures of her home to TMZ, she’s hosting an exclusive housewarming herself, and everyone’s invited—though not everyone may stay.
The video benefits from the house’s clandestine getaway look, only showcasing bare necessities: curtains that ripple with her seafoam nightgown and the beach below, a mattress on the floor with a mirror next to it, sunglasses and a trashy magazine on the kitchen counter. There are chilly blues and stark whites in the sky, in the sea, and in the house that has a view of both. There are dashes of gold sprinkled throughout, too: around her neck, her wrist, trim on the coffee pot, a vintage telescope on the counter.
I’d take this place as is over the lavish mansion in National Anthem any day (A$AP Rocky is still welcome to visit, though). It’s that other kind of dream house for the other kind of American Dream: the frontier dream, the outlaw on the outskirts of society, both wild and at peace. This dream house doesn’t have neighbours to pretend to befriend, no lawn to take care of. This dream house is the kind of dream where you are finally alone, but not lonely-- something Lana may dream about, but may not be ready for. I realize I’m calling this a dream house, but it’s not really that; it’s all real, and it all belongs to Lana.
But is the video a dream? Fantasy and reality are both interrupted and sustained by these dizzying mini loops. Twice we watch her collapse onto her mattress with a small smile, lean against a sunny wall, run her fingers through beach-wave-hair, stumble on steps. In the last loop, a handrail catches her nightgown and yanks her back; a jarring but magnetic moment of candid inelegance.
While Lana’s often crooned about wanting money from her bad boys, High by the Beach ditches those romantic anthems in its bridge: I'll do it on my own/ Don't need your money, money/ to get me what I want. And she certainly does do it on her own: when she shoots down that helicopter carrying the paparazzo I felt a little guilty for loving a sequence that would probably make Michael Bay’s dick twitch (Godard, Griffith, whoever was right: there’s just something about a girl and a gun). But Lana doesn’t even look particularly happy once she gets what she wants. It’s a fantasy fulfilled, but to what end? It will just happen again. Perhaps she wants this dream to be a recurring one. Because who is she really, with no one to look at looking at her? She may not be lonely, but she doesn’t want to be left alone. It’s too much, and yet not enough. She does what we all do. She closes her eyes. She moves, dreams on.