The realm of David Lynch is an odd realm to wander around in. Lynch has been hailed as a master of the surreal and a master of his craft with such outings as Eraserhead, Mullholland Drive and Lost Highway (to a lesser extent). To some degree, Lynch has created new and bizarre ways to tell a story on celluloid and inspired generations to continue on challenging the mind. With that pretentious sounding praise of Lynch, let’s get down to brass tacks and take a look at 1986’s bizarro film noir, Blue Velvet
I am going to go off the record and just make one thing clear: having to spoil this movie would be a crime to anyone who hasn’t seen this movie, so I will deliver a minimal synopsis to the plot to allow the reader to get a chance to scope this out. This might be a recurring trend for future Film A Week reviews.
Jeffery Beaumont, played here by K Mac…I mean, Kyle Maclachlan, heads off to investigate a ear that was found in the middle of a field in Lumberton. Alongside Sandy Williams, played by Laura Dern, he gets into a mystery involving local club singer Dorthy Valens, played by Isabella Rossellini, and a fetish loving thug named Frank Booth, played by Dennis Hopper. If one is familiar with Lynch’s other work, one can expect out of this feature. The film engages the audience in a neo-noir erotic thriller that holds on and never lets go.
The style Lynch uses is is quite strange, combining the stereotypes of noir films, the simplistic nature of the 50’s and the thrilling suspense and shock of then present day society. The odd mixture of these style structures blend to make the brightness of the film in certain scenes between Jeffery and Sandy contrast perfectly with the harsh darkness that looms between Jeffery’s encounter with Dorthy and Frank.
Lynch’s direction on the darker scenes is reminiscent of classic Hitchcock with long extended scenes of silence with only the action going on. In more intense scenes, such as Frank begging for a fuck from Dorthy, have a downright haunting quality. Lynch’s use of the Roy Orbison classic ‘In Dreams’ to both deliver pleasureful entertainment to delivering a mood whiplash moment in the merciful beat down of Jeffery by Frank is dazzling. Okay, that might be a bias since I adore Roy Orbison.
Kyle Maclachlan as the moral hero is hit and miss at points, but when true panic occurs, Maclachlan sells those scenes with ease as a perfect foil to the harsh and brutal Frank. Laura Dern plays the innocence of Sandy to a tee worrying if Jeffery will love her and if he is safe. Isabella Rossellini as the abused and distraught Dorthy Valens captures the nature of the heartbroken femme fetale desperate for true affection. Dennis Hopper is perfect as the heavy that is Frank with constant vulgarity and pure dickish intentions that spread from beating people to yelling for Jeffery’s choice of Heineken.
Blue Velvet is a classic in the surreal and a step into the past of cinema as well into the bizarre art house future. David Lynch creates a masterpiece and wonderful dark thriller that has lasted beyond its own time.
This Saturday, David Bowie makes his mark on Film A Week into the strange science fiction classic, the Man Who Fell to Earth. Yes, Film A Week is turning to face the strange again (sorry for the reference).
Film A Week 28: The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
Saturday, July 20th