The movie Inland Empire seems to be difficult for people to understand, but I have a lot of ideas about it.
[Lots of Spoilers!]
Most of it might be just an imagined worst-case-scenario that the frightened and distrought Lost Girl has running through her head during the night.
The vast majority of the film is not an objective perspective. That Lost Girl scene might be, and I also think a few other small scenes are fairly close as well. For instance, when the pregnancy is announced when they are sitting at the table.
One large arc of the story is “the secret”, and that’s mostly what I’ll talk about today. We first hear of it near the start when the rabbit says he has a secret. In my opinion, his entrance into the sitcom accompanied by bizarre cheering represents the decision to create the secret. I think this is the Lost Girl’s decision.
Soon after this, the new neighbour visits Nikki. I think Nikki here may be the mind of the Lost Girl (or part of it), and the visitor represents another part of the mind of the Lost Girl, she could be the troublesome thoughts about the situation that she is being confronted with. She lives in the small woods, it’s difficult to see her house from the road, therefore she is related to the secret.
“Not through the market, but through the alleyway behind the market. This is the way to the palace.”
She parks in the alley because there’s always parking there. Then she sees the sign Axxon N, and begins remembering something. Information that she had chosen to hide from herself, purposefully. (the secret)
But she finds out the secret. Was she, in fact, seeing another man? Yes. Though for a while she didn’t know which came before and which came after: the need to screw people for money (she needed to because she was pregnant), or her infidelity. But her husband knows for a fact that he cannot father children. So it was her infidelity which came first.
She sees Axxon N and she finds out the secret. She says “I’m a whore” and then mocks her methods of fooling herself (“Where was I?”).
This underhanded way of making money (trying to get to “the palace”, or to Inland Empire) is called “going through the alleyway”. And recall that scene in the woods, her husband was unfairly abandoned by someone who left for Inland Empire. It was her. She realizes this and perceives herself as villainous (represented by her slow nightmarish run towards the camera with the jumpscare closeup, then it cuts to a scene of her face shocked by seeing this). She surpressed reality, was hypnotized by the Phantom as well, and this came back to hurt her (stab her in the gut).
There’s more I could go into, but that’s enough rambling for today.