Blue Velvet

Poster
1986
David Lynch

9/10 (unpleasantly weird)

If you haven’t seen any David Lynch films, reading a review will probably not be that helpful. You really have to see a Lynch film to understand what he’s all about. You can’t do him justice talking about him. Even after having seen all of his movies but for “Dune,” words still fail me. “Blue Velvet,” along with “Mulholland Drive” and “Wild at Heart,” would be solid places to start. Although I’m not sure there’s really a best Lynch film to serve as orientation. They are almost all disturbing in their own ways.

Out of 10 feature films, Lynch has made 4 more-or-less mainstream movies with “The Elephant Man,” “Dune,” “Wild at Heart,” and “The Straight Story.” The other 6 vary in degrees of weirdness, but they all have it. In this weird majority of his films, I think I can best put it by describing the strong sensation I get from watching them. David Lynch appears to literally film his dreams, like he just scribbled down a particularly vivid dream after waking up in the morning and then decided to flesh it out into a feature length film. They all have a floating, detached quality, and they all include haunting imagery and scenery, and the narrative is often times incoherent. But they all leave you with the feeling that you’ve witnessed something unforgettable, and they stay with you afterwards.

“Blue Velvet” has one of Lynch’s more coherent narratives, but deals nonetheless in plenty of disturbing imagery. It is perhaps his most famous movie, and it heavily treats what would become a strong theme throughout his work: the seedy underworld of an otherwise normal looking town/city/world. Dreaming, of course, can be a metaphor for this, and vice versa.

The narrative has Jeffrey (Lynch fave Kyle MacLachlan), a college student returning to his perfect hometown for vacation, discover a severed human ear in an abandoned lot. His curiosity gets the best of him and he has to investigate with the help of clues from Sandy (Laura Dern), whose father is a policeman. In the course of his amateur detective work, he meets Dorothy (Isabella Rosselini), a depressed masochistic wife whose husband and child have been kidnapped, and Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper), the sadistic drug-huffiing sexual deviant who is responsible. Hijinks ensue.

What makes “Blue Velvet” so famous and such a good David Lynch film? Mostly Dennis Hopper, a sinister villain who is truly psychopathic and thus truly scary. But there is also Lynch’s use of music in certain scenes, fantastic acting all around, and his entire style which makes the movie into the most unconventional noir film ever. It is quite simply a masterpiece, albeit a weird, uncomfortable one. Nobody is better than Lynch at creating haunting images that stick with you. He knows how to get under your skin, and he does it here expertly.

In conclusion, if you’re tired of mainstream films and want to get a little weird with your movie-watching, David Lynch is a must-see, and “Blue Velvet” is probably the place to start. Or if you’re just curious to know what all the fuss over “David Lynch” is about. He gets it for a reason.

28 March 2010

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