Young lovers Sailor and Lula run from the variety of weirdos that Lula's mom has hired to kill Sailor.Young lovers Sailor and Lula run from the variety of weirdos that Lula's mom has hired to kill Sailor.Young lovers Sailor and Lula run from the variety of weirdos that Lula's mom has hired to kill Sailor.
It has enough going for it either way; a road movie given to us with a gonzo eye, crime and anguish as kitchen- sink ritual, archetypally American male and female avatars of sexual youth, a sense of wanting to just love but the world is a wicked place, and if that's not enough something else will come along in the next scene.
It was awarded the top prize that year at Cannes. I would have to guess that the French saw some of this as archetypally tweaked America, quintessential in the fracture. It's the same audience that was going to receive Pulp Fiction with plaudits in a few years.
And this is the whole thing. At this point Lynch could still be thought of as one among the quirky bunch that included the Coens, Stone and soon Tarantino. But can he be thought of as one of them now? No indeed and that's how much he has evolved.
What sets Lynch apart is that others create movies as self-enclosed worlds; for Lynch it's rather one larger, open-ended world that he carries with him everywhere and now and then summons some part of it in movie form.
The Coens for example, who are closest to him in several ways, both work with metaphysics and indulge loves for song, noir and dreams. Blue Velvet and Raizing Arizona, I can't think of one without the other, both with a dreamlike noir engine that skewers idyllic middle America. But the Coens think up a story and cleanly work out its mechanism, Lynch's work seems to come from prolonged stays in meditative habitation of that world. They are intellectuals, he's spiritual (not the same as pious).
Except this one came from a book Lynch was given while finishing the Twin Peaks pilot and decided to do; not so much summoned from his world as he visited someone else's and came back with impressions. Now in my third viewing, it continues to be my least favorite of his post- Velvet long works that constitute the Lynch world but still one of the most endearing messes I know. It's Lynch letting out steam more than anything.
But I'll keep with me the powerful noir engine that creates the fearful dreaming; two women, mother and daughter, who are traumatized by something they (she) allowed to happen (rape, husband's murder) and this is now spilling and surging through the film as helplessness to resist evil (most notably seen in the helplessness to avert the PI's death and the Bobby Peru scene).
It does show Lynch as a humanist filmmaker, not a cynic, and that alone elevates it above mere carnage.
- Apr 22, 2016