This is a film all about the stylised creation, direction and delivery of a David Lynch thriller. Many say it's his best work. I haven't seen enough of the others to make that call probably, though I have enjoyed the class of Mulholland Drive, some of Twin Peaks, Wild at Heart, The Elephant Man and Eraserhead - so maybe I've seen more than I realised!
All of these outings reflect a real artist working within the medium of film and if he were not doing so, one gets the impression it would be on canvas or sculpted. Always dark, surreal, beautifully atmospheric with wonderful attention to photography. This is no exception. It's a dark tale of Ordinarytown America where nothing much happens normally, people go about their lives and get bored with Dullsville.
Then suddenly, by chance, a teenage lad finds a human ear in a field, takes it to the local copper, who behaves in a sinister manner about the whole matter, telling him to leave well alone and forget he found it. The copper's daughter gets involved and our lad decides to investigate for himself to try and find out what it's all about. She tags along nervously through some of it.
The story then opens up a bit to involve a blues singer who's child has been kidnapped, bizarre drug abuse and the nasty psychotic behaviour of the villain, played madly, violently and mesmerisingly by Dennis Hopper. He steals the show really, though the main two leads do their bit very well, being Laura Dern and Kyle MacLachlan. There is an underplayed chemistry between the two of them but it takes some time to rear its head.
The blues singer is played very stylishly by Isabella Rossellini who injects a chilling eroticism and some nudity into the proceedings, whilst also introducing a sub-plot of teen-lad coming-of-age and being introduced to sex. This is not gratuitous though and shouldn't put off the viewer who'd rather not see erotic cinema. Suspense is kept high, in its own way, though again, in a stylised manner in keeping with the direction and film, not Hitchcockian, for example.
The film is weird and surreal in many places with much soft-focus and over-emphasis on blue throughout, not just when there's velvet in the scene. The music is fabulous, predictably centred around Bobby Vinton's Blue Velvet but also Roy Orbison's In Dreams giving this a 1950's in 1980's feel and style of its own. This keeps things even more interestingly stylish and glued together nicely.
It's a fabulous piece of cinema which should be watched a couple of times to get the real benefit, but Lynch stuff can certainly be a Marmite thing for many. Some may sit transfixed and in awe, others may wonder what on earth is going on and what they've let themselves in for! I think this hits the mark for me and would recommend it very much. I would suggest that you at least try, now that, at the time of writing, it's included in NetflixUK.
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