Blue Velvet (1986)

Blue Velvet (1986), written and directed by David Lynch.


I don't know if you're a detective or a pervert.

Take two themes that have been well-worn in movies for decades: (1) that wholesome and respectable society is just a facade concealing a corrupt and sordid underbelly, and (2) that of the amateur sleuth who investigates a mystery and gets in too deep.

David Lynch combines these using his usual intuitive and ghastly interpretation to produce something out of a nightmare. Almost literally, as when Frank Booth hypnotically repeats Roy Orbison's lyrics:

In dreams... I walk with you
In dreams... I talk to you
In dreams... You're mine

Dennis Hopper is demonically vile here. Just out of rehab, his first films were this, Hoosiers and River's Edge (1986), all great performances. He makes Frank evil, but also lets us see that he is in pain, and in love, which is not good for anyone around him.

Kyle MacLachlan is Jeffrey (like "Jeff" the voyeur in Rear Window (1954)) who is fascinated by the hidden secrets of his town and who enjoys the company of two women: Sandy (Laura Dern), the sunny and wholesome high school senior, and Dorothy, the older woman with a tragic story who offers unlimited sadomasochistic pleasures. Sandy gets his attention by helping with his investigation, while Dorothy is central to the whole dangerous business.

Jeffrey encounters people so bad, so out there, that we don't even understand what they are into.

I noticed more visual humor this time. As is often the case, Lynch believes in "little doorways" between realities and, in the end, gives us a glimpse of Heaven.

Score by Angelo Badalamenti. Seldom has a director been so fortunate in his composer. Contributions by Bobby Vinton, Roy Orbison, and Julee Cruise.

I did Frank Booth for Halloween once, went to a head shop for the inhaler. "Hey, neighbor, how about a ride? What kind of beer do you like?" I don't think anyone got it.

Nudity, passion, and abundant crazed violence. Has anyone asked Lynch why he likes brains so much? I don't think I'll be seeing Wild at Heart again.

Available on Blu-ray which includes 50 minutes of "lost scenes" as a separate title, not edited into the film itself. It also has Mysteries of Love, a 70 minute documentary from 2002. It's in standard definition and I think improperly flagged as 16:9 when it should be 4:3, giving it a stretch-o-vision aspect ratio. I haven't been able to find out if it's a problem with the disc or just me and my setup. None of the early reviews mention it. The documentary itself is very good.