|release date||February 21 1997|
|writer||David Lynch, Barry Gifford|
|starring||Bill Pullman, Patricia Arquette, Michael Massee|
**THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS***
If you’re a movie-buff, you know the name David Lynch. What that name means to you, however, could be many different things. To some, it means complexity. To others, confusion. But when I see that name, the first word that comes to mind is “Art.” Watching his films has always been more like going to an art show than watching a movie. The images you see defy the norms of everyday cinema. And if you try to watch it as such, you won’t get much out of it. That and you’ll probably end up giving yourself a migraine.
David Lynch is known for his extremely abstract way of presenting his films. From Eraserhead all the way up to Mulholland Drive he has been expanding our minds by presenting us with nothing short of artistic brilliance. Lost Highway is no exception. Describing the plot of a Lynch film seems trivial, as the only way to understand it is to experience it. However, though often recommended for mainstream cinema, I would advise against walking blind into a film by David Lynch…especially if you’ve never experienced one before. The magnitude of his complexity can often be too much for a viewer who might be expecting something a little more (dare I say) ordinary. And since I can’t say that everyone who reads this is a Lynch aficionado, a plot description might do well. Off we go…
Fred Madison (Bill Pullman) is tired. You can see it in his eyes and hear it in his monotonous voice. His emotion is as lacking as it is overly-present, hiding just beneath the surface of a washed out jazz musician/husband. His wife Renee (Patricia Arquette), although beautiful, seems to be his continuous stress factor. It appears Jazz is the only thing bringing any substance to Fred’s life. But when he invites Renee to attend his musical events, she declines, inspiring suspicion both in Fred and the audience. As things move on, the couple receive a packaged, completely anonymous, videotape on their doorstep. On the tape is a video displaying the outside of their house. Then another tape, this time going from their living room to their bedroom where they lay asleep. I’ll be honest, these sequences scared the hell out of me. They are executed in an eery way that takes me back to when horror movies didn’t rely on jump scares to frighten viewers.
Perhaps to relieve some stress, the couple goes to a party. It’s there Fred’s anxiety gets cranked up even higher due to a chat with a vampiric-looking stranger claiming he’s in their house as they speak. The next morning Fred receives another tape, which he watches alone, containing shocking evidence of him murdering Renee. And this, my friends, is where things get interesting. After a death sentence is handed out, Fred somehow vanishes from his cell and appears to wake up in the body of a young mechanic.
What David Lynch does here is interesting. Instead of providing the audience with some satisfaction that Fred did in fact “morph” into a new body, we get no strong evidence. Instead we are introduced to this mechanic as a brand new character with almost no similarities to Fred whatsoever. At least not at first.
Lost Highway is a film that is hard for me to recommend to anybody. In order to fully enjoy and appreciate it, you’ll need to retrain the way your brain thinks about movies. The suddenness of the films pace changes can be very distracting and, at times, a bit intrusive to your overall viewing experience. However, it is part of what makes it unique. The plot will never fully come together in the way we’re all used to. Instead, it uses the power of abstract directing to make you really feel what is happening instead of comprehending it. It is a journey into the mind of a killer, where emotions are represented by it’s characters and actions are never definite.