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One Movie Punch

Jan 28, 2018

Today’s movie is “Blue Velvet” (1986), David Lynch’s fourth feature film and the aesthetic precursor to “Twin Peaks” (1990), “Lost Highway” (1997), and “Mulholland Dr.” (2001). The film follows Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle Maclachlan), who has returned to Lumberton to see his father after an accident places him in the hospital. On the way back from the hospital, he discovers a severed human ear and reports it to Detective Williams (George Dickerson).

The following day Jeffrey seeks out Detective Williams, unable to get the mystery out of his mind, and is advised to leave the case alone. However, Jeffrey runs into the detective’s daughter, Sandra (Laura Dern), and the two of them decide to investigate the crime on their own, using the little knowledge each of them possesses. Their investigation leads to Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini), a masochistic nightclub singer whose son is being held hostage by the incredibly psychotic Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper).

“Blue Velvet” demonstrates Lynch’s ability to make everyday moments feel sinister and surreal, transforming small town life into film noir, and easy listening rock’n’roll and jazz to dark, fatalist works. Daytime small town scenes are idyllic, awash with primary and secondary colors, and contrasted by the nighttime scenes, with muted, dirty tones and tricks of light and shadow. Between scenes are classic Lynchian transitions, poignant and superb for 1986, setting the tone for the following scenes.

The cast is impressive. A very young Kyle MacLachlan turns in an excellent performance for only his second role, the first being Lynch’s “Dune”. Dennis Hopper’s performance feels so psychotic, bringing Frank to life. Isabella Rossellini is alluring and convincing, tempting any conservatively minded viewers. Dean Stockwell dominates his entry scene. And Laura Dern’s muted performance fits her character well.

A great script, a wonderful cast, and the amazing direction and editing of Lynch can only be complimented by excellent song selections whose lyrics directly influence the film, along with an amazing score by Angelo Badalamenti, who makes a nice cameo as a piano player. Add it all up, and enter with an open mind, and you’ll find probably one of the most influential films from the 1980s, not just for Lynch’s later work, but for so many directors and films to come.

Rotten Tomatoes: 94% (CERTIFIED)

Metacritic: 76

One Movie Punch: 8.8/10

“Blue Velvet” (1986) is rated R and is currently streaming on “Amazon Prime”.