Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Lost Highway

Year of Release:  1997
Director:  David Lynch
Screenplay:  David Lynch and Barry Gifford
Starring:  Bill Pullman, Patricia Arquette, Balthazar Getty
Running Time:  134 minutes
Genre:  Mystery, neo-noir, horror

Fred Madison (Pullman) is a saxophonist, and has a strained relationship with his mysterious wife Renee (Arquette).  The couple begin receiving a series of strange video tapes showing the exterior and interior of their house.  When Renee is savagely murdered, Madison is accused of the crime and sentenced to death.  However, on death row he transforms into young mechanic Pete Dayton (Getty).  One of Dayton's frequent clients is mercurial gangster Mister Eddy (Robert Loggia), and he finds himself becoming dangerously infatuated with Mister Eddy's seductive girlfriend Alice (Arquette again).  Then things start to get a little strange.

This is possibly one of the strangest films that David Lynch has made.  In fact watching it sometimes feels as if your watching two separate films spliced together.  The first part of the film, plays like a nightmare.  The whole thing is dreamlike, the camera slowly drifting through the Madison's cavernous, shadowy house, full of strange rumblings and odd lights, much like the camera in the videos they are sent.  The character's movements are slow, and their dialogue slightly off-tempo.  The second, much longer part of the film, plays very much like a nineties' neo-noir, at least initially, about a guy being drawn to a dangerous woman.  The scene where Mister Eddy beats and screams at a tailgater could have come straight from a Quentin Tarantino film.  The script was co-written by Lynch with novelist Barry Gifford (whose work Lynch had adapted in Wild at Heart (1990)), and Lynch was inspired to make the film by a phrase in Gifford's short story collection Night People (1992), and the opening scene in the film was based on an incident that actually happened to Lynch, where someone buzzed his intercom to inform him that "Dick Laurent is dead".  Lynch claims that he has no idea who the caller was or who Dick Laurent was.  This film won't be to everyone's tastes.  It's allusive, challenging, disturbing, deeply strange and offers up no easy answers to it's many mysteries.  However, if you pay attention you can come to an interpretation of the film.  There are some classic Lynch moments and characters here, particularly Robert Blake as the genuinely creepy Mystery Man.

  The Mystery Man (Robert Blake) in Lost Highway


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