Set in the sleepy town of Lumberton, Blue Velvet is a brooding, sensuous mystery about the intertwining lives of four very different individuals. It all starts with the discovery of a severed ear on a sunny day…
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Can't you see? Everybody has sunburnt teeth from smiling so much!
Lynch excavates the strange, subterranean reality beneath America's pristine lawns and nice white teeth - the sordid, rotten core of a rosy, robin-red fever dream. Fragments of a dream transmogrified into an absurd nightmare littered with errant body parts, peeping toms and gas-huffing psychopaths.
Definitely not as cryptic as Lynch's most recent efforts, "Blue Velvet" is enjoyable but a bit overrated. I like the mix of a certain weirdness/innocence/camp-factor with the sexual exploitation/violence/drama (I mean, that's the charm of 'Twin Peaks'!), but it also made the film a bit uneven. The musical moments were great and seeing Sandy's face when she found out that Jeffrey and Dorothy had sex was priceless!
This film came out in the 80s, a time when the market was flooded with coming of age teen flicks. Lynch took the tropes of those films and subverted them into a surreal neo-noir that is also perhaps the finest film about the male gaze. It's also Hitchcock level thriller that is drenched with references to the latter's work. Mulholland Dr. is a masterpiece, but I just slightly prefer this descent into Lynchville.
Like many of Lynch's films, Blue Velvet feels like a stroll through a hallucination or dream. The suspense and bizarre sensuality are omnipresent, but Lynch uses music and humor to complicate the film's dark mood. Throw in the all-star cast, and this is undoubtedly a surrealist classic.
Lynch's style is so often mentioned, but it is really so awesome that one can do little but bask in the general effect. The performances are spot on, as is the dialogue and the screenplay. The one unclear point is Jeffrey's initial motivation to investigate Dorothy, but that, I feel, is supposed to be more instinctual. The prostitute dancing on the car has to be one of the best moments captured on film, though.
The blu-ray transfer is fantastic; it's almost like seeing the film again for the first time. The disc also contains some 40 minutes of deleted scenes, previously considered lost. While it was interesting to watch the recovered footage, it wasn't difficult to see why these scenes were cut. Most of them merely illuminate Jeffrey's dreary homelife, though we do find out he was a bit of a voyeur even at school.
I don't quite get the appeal of this film. Creepy at times, funny and a little strange but it certainly wasn't striking, surreal, beautiful, sexy, symbolic, remarkable or expressive...underwhelming is more like it.
Jeffery asks why people like Frank exist. They exist because it is necessary, and without them there would be no "good." A horrific nightmare, or a strange dream. This is one of those great movies I'm in no hurry to watch again.