Tuesday, August 13, 2013
(January 1997, U.S.)
Creepy...spooky...freaky...surreal...psychological...sick...choose any of these adjectives and you're very likely describing the mind of film maker David Lynch. If you're a true fan, then just about anything this man puts on film is a work of genius, even the ones that don't do well with audiences and critics, like TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME (1992). But hey, what do these people know anyway?? After that film, I and the rest of his following had to wait five long years before he made another film. LOST HIGHWAY, like its predecessor, did not do very well upon release and for the life of me, I can't figure out why! Was it too hard to follow? Well, to that I say, fuck you, man up and see it twice or three times if you need extra time to understand an artist's true screen vision! I paid to see it twice in 1997 and it only helped to enrich the experience of it all, and yes, I understood it's content just a little better.
LOST HIGHWAY is (technically) a psychological thriller film with elements of neo-noir but it's important to keep an open mind on how it comes off on screen. David Lynch has never officially made a horror film before, but there are just too many incredibly creepy and spooky episodes and moments in this film to not recognize it as one of the most haunting and frightening films I've ever seen. Bill Pullman (fresh off of INDEPENDENCE DAY as the President of the United States) is in a very different role as saxophone player Fred Madison who just may not be the person he seems. The questionable adulteress actions of his wife Renee (played by Patricia Arquette) is stroking his suspicions and his inner jealous rage. Add to this the fact that the married couple is repeatedly receiving strange videotapes that show their house being filmed (outside and inside) as well as them asleep in their beds. A particular close shot of Renee's mouth telling the police, "Someone broke into our house and taped us!" is enough to provoke the proper appreciation of such an act taking place in one's home. Like many of Lynch's films, there's hardly ever a true cohesive structure and we're taken through a world that seems part dream-like and contains the possibility of two alternate realities. Who is Fred Madison, really and does he really turn into a completely different man known as Pete Dayton (played by Balthazar Getty) when he's under extreme and painful duress of (maybe) having killed his wife in a jealous rage? Who is Renee, really, and does she really exist also as the hot, young, piece-of-ass-with-great-looking-tits...
...blonde lover of Pete Dayton and also the mistress of very hot-tempered gangster known only as Mr. Eddy? Is Mr. Eddy really the man known as Dick Laurent? This last question is important because it's the message of "Dick Laurent is dead" that opens and closes LOST HIGHWAY and Fred Madison is behind it, one way and the other. And finally, who is the very feaky "mystery man" in black played by Robert Blake (the last of the remaining OUR GANG kids, I believe)??
To truly appreciate the art of David Lynch is to understand that there are always questions and the answers may not always be clear. LOST HIGHWAY, as well as the work of Lynch, is often about two worlds that come together in incomprehensible conflict. It happens here and it happened again with the films that followed, MULHOLLAND DR. (2001) and INLAND EMPIRE (2007). This film's bipartite structure serves to exploit the opposition of two different horrors: the phantasmatic horror of the nightmarish noir universe of perverse sex, betrayal, and murder, and the (perhaps a whole lot more unsettling) despair of our drab and alienated daily life of impotence and distrust of one's partner in life. Yes, it's all hard to comprehend when you're seeing it for the first time in the movie theater, but knowing full well that you're about to sit down and experience the mind of David Lynch, would you really expect anything different?? Critics and dumb moviegoers should probably be forced to sit through it and watch it again so they don't walk away with the wrong (yes, I said WRONG) and premature reaction of unfortunate negativity. As a matter of fact, upon its release, Siskel & Ebert (both R.I.P.) gave the film "two thumbs down" and Lynch decided to use this to his advantage by claiming it was "two good reasons to go and see LOST HIGHWAY" and actually used the thumbs down in newspaper ads. I don't know if it worked, but who cares! I loved this film! It's one of his best films alongside BLUE VELVET and MULHOLLAND DR.!
Favorite line or dialogue:
Mystery Man: "We've met before, haven't we."
Fred Madison: "I don't think so. Where was it you think we met?"
Mystery Man: "At your house. Don't you remember?"
Fred: "No. No, I don't. Are you sure?"
Mystery Man: "Of course. As a matter of fact, I'm there right now."
Fred: "What do you mean? You're where right now?"
Mystery Man: "At your house."
Fred: "That's fucking crazy, man!"
Mystery Man (takes out a cell phone): "Call me. Dial your number. Go ahead."
(Fred dials the number and the Mystery Man answers)
Mystery Man: (over the phone): "I told you I was here."
Fred: "How'd you do that?"
Mystery Man: "Ask me."
Fred: (angrily into the phone) "How did you get inside my house?"
Mystery Man: "You invited me. It is not my custom to go where I am not wanted."
Fred: "Who are you?"
Mystery Man (voice): "Give me back my phone."
Mystery Man: "It's been a pleasure talking to you."