Review No. 383
The Bottom Line: Frightening. Weird. Demented. In two words, David Lynch.
Directed by: David Lynch
Written by: David Lynch
Dorothy Vallens: Isabella Rossellini
Jeffrey Beaumont: Kyle Maclachlan
Frank Booth: Dennis Hopper
Sandy Williams: Laura Dern
Also Starring: Dean Stockwell, Frances Bay, George Dickerson, Hope Lange, Priscilla Pointer
Distributed by De Laurentiis Entertainment Group on September 19, 1986. Produced in the English by the United States. Runs 121 minutes. Rated R by the MPAA (graphic violence; nudity; strong sexual content; profanity; substance abuse).
Blue Velvet was watched on January 4, 2013.
“She wore Blue Velvet
Bluer than velvet was the night
Softer than satin was the light…”
Blue Velvet is a chilling, perturbing, and macabre thriller. Starting up, this seems a harmless drama, touched lightly by elements of romance and crime. Then the true David Lynch takes action, and now it’s a morbid psychodrama with elements of romance and crime that are equally brutal, equally disturbed, equally unpredictable.
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of his work; that I’m a recent inductee to the world of his intoxicating cult appeal; that I’m well into the second season of his crime-cum-supernatural TV saga Twin Peaks. Lynch’s consistency, however, makes this an equally mind-blowing criminal complex. He’s the cinematic embodiment of both genius and insanity, leaving no loose ends on either spectrum and tying them rather finely into one whole.
Before fifteen minutes have passed, and without giving even the most buried omen, he’s already spinning a graphic, twisted murder mystery. First it’s about the discovery of a severed ear, which leads to the possibilities of murder; then it’s about a detective’s obsession with a bipolar rhythm-and-blues singer/nymphomaniac, who has been thought to have certain aspects of involvement with the crime; then it’s about her increasing mania.
What’s most amazing—among the several hundred other factors that place directly below—about Blue Velvet is how rationally and all the more shockingly all those events are tied together in the end.
Blue Velvet is a definition of style. I do love Federico Fellini’s 8½ as well as Luis Buñuel’s Un chien andalou, but just the symbolism of a single element (blue velvet), the way David Lynch proposes it, decimates just about any figurative intrigue in those two avant-garde masterpieces.
What’s even better is the cinematography. Most, if not all of the scenes set in the murderess’s apartment feature dimly lit point-of-view shots from the eyes of our detective, as he stares at her from inside a closet. It’s a voyeuristic style popularized by Alfred Hitchcock in films such as Psycho and Rear Window; David Lynch’s resurrection is much appreciated. Every now and then, the sensation of an approaching figure delivers an uneasy notion of fear.
Undoubtedly, Blue Velvet is strange in every unconventional sense of the word. Its graphic, psychotic, often paranoid look at humanity makes it difficult to watch (not that it doesn’t demand attention). But those same descriptors are also just why this thriller is so intensely and morbidly realistic, as if stranger than fiction.