Saturday, June 19, 2010

#163 Blue Velvet (1986)


Director: David Lynch

Cast: Isabelle Rossellini, Kyle MacLachlan, Dennis Hopper, Laura Dern, Hope Lange, Dean Stockwell

Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) is back from college to take care of the family hardware store after his father suffers a serious stroke. On his way home from the hospital, he stops to throw rocks in an empty field and discovers a human ear lying in the tall grass. Taking it to his neighbor, the local detective, they promise to look into the case, but Jeffrey needs to butt-out. The detective's daughter (Laura Dern) spills some information about the case, and Jeffry takes it upon himself to do some mystery-solving of his own.

This leads him to the apartment of Dorothy Vallen (Isabella Rossellini)- a deeply disturbed and tortured lounge singer who seems to be mixed up in some awful, dirty business. Jeffrey witnesses as Dorothy is sexually abused by a torturously evil and mentally disturbed man named Frank Booth, and he uncovers the truth about Dorothy's kidnapped family.

All of this wraps itself up into a romance with the detective's daughter, a twisted sexual relationship with Ms. Vallen, a jealous jock boyfriend, a perverted clown, a man in a yellow suit, and a blue velvet fetish.

The film seemed to me to be making some brilliant observations about suburban society and its under-belly. What on the surface is tulips blowing in the wind and fireman riding by waving in slow motion--is really a dirty apartment building full of bourbon, perversions, abuse, and secrets.

Though beautifully shot and continually surprising, the actors of this film aka LAURA DERN were really quite awful. Every time I found myself slipping into the dark world that rests beneath the surface... butterface Laura Dern popped on screen and killed everything. One of the most amazing and disturbing scenes of the film is the appearance of Dorothy Vallens at the house of the detective. Ghostlike and somewhat possessed, she is clinging at Jeffrey, and it is completely beyond amazing/horrific. Then, cut to Laura Dern, who is making the most god awful crying face I have ever seen captured on film. This woman is far more horrifying than anything else that was happening in the film. Ruined it for me.

I also don't want to spoil the ending of the film, but I found it to be SO disappointing. The director really opened an interesting door with how long he let the guns be pointed in suspense at the end, but then he chose to bring it round full circle back to Happy Days. It's obvious he was making a nod back to the beginning of the film-- he even re-used some of the footage-- but it didn't leave me in a good place. The calling-in to dinner and scene in the park were just a little too much for what I could stomach. I wanted an ending that revealed something or left it just a little uncertain. I can't decide if it was a cliche ending, or if it was cliche to make a point.

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