Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Movie Review: Blue Velvet

United States, 1986
U.S. Release Date: 9/19/86
Running Time: 2:00
Rated: R (Profanity, violence, nudity, sex)
Cast: Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper, Laura Dern, Hope Lange, Dean Stockwell, George Dickerson

Director: David Lynch
Producer: Fred Caruso
Screenplay: David Lynch
Music: Angelo Badalamenti
Studio: MGM

Posted by Hello
The word “wow!” could easily sum up a review of Blue Velvet. Nevertheless, I digress. Director David Lynch combines violence, profanity, and sex in this unique and near psychotic mystery. In doing so, he creates the finest and most comprehensive example of his genius. By juxtaposing good and evil, beauty and ugliness, and dream and nightmare, Lynch bends the customary genre of mystery with his unconventional weirdness. While some may say that Blue Velvet is too wacko and out-there to view, that is precisely what makes this film an outright masterpiece.

After uncovering a severed human ear, Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) takes it to the police station. There, the Lumberton Police Department opens the case, and so does the intuitively investigative Jeffrey. Jeffrey soon meets Sandy (Laura Dern), who happens to be the daughter of the officer in charge of the investigation on the extremity, and together the two become sleuths hoping to solve the mystery behind the ear and its owner.

Jeffrey and Sandy soon acquire information of a possible link between the ear and a local nightclub singer named Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini). After breaking into the young women’s apartment and not hearing Sandy's warning, Jeffrey ends up trapped inside. Just as Dorothy and Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper) enter the apartment, Jeffrey slips into a closet with louver doors. From there, he observes Frank violently and sexually abuse Dorothy; however, Dorothy is aroused by being beaten and dominated. Soon, Jeffrey himself develops an S&M relationship with the nightclub singer and is corrupted from the American Dream with Sandy to the American Nightmare with Dorothy and Frank.

At the beginning of the film, there is an amazing sequence, in which the camera sinks to the ground and wanders in between the blades of grass; this shot will surely both catch your eye and set your brain waves in motion. After the camera weaves through the grass and passes over the earthy terrain, it reveals what is beyond the green grass—a grotesque pile of black slimy bugs. While this shot may be a little unsettling, it serves as the overall theme of the film—if you look hard enough and close enough at the seemingly simple world of Americana, you will find the absolute depths of unsettling wickedness.

Although a handful of Blue Velvet’s scenes take a look at the ugly side of the human race, they add to the “Lynchian” style. A few of these scenes showcase both rough sexual behaviors and ugly degradation involving the film’s lead characters. While a few have criticized Lynch for placing his characters in these demoralizing situations, all of the leads still do their job with unyielding professionalism.

Lynch favorite, Kyle MacLachlan, plays the part of the innocent yet exploratory Jeffrey faultlessly. Isabella Rossellini plays a fine role as an eccentric and sadomasochistic club singer, while Dennis Hopper is unbelievably frightening as Frank. Hands down, Hopper’s Frank Booth is one of the scariest and most twisted villains of all time; his portrayal of Frank is enigmatic, perverse, and utterly iconic.

Even if Blue Velvet tends to be shocking and uncomfortable at times, it is one of the best examples of film-noir ever affixed to celluloid. Everyone should make the time to see this feature; it is unquestionably the film American Beauty looks up to and one of the supreme features of the ‘80s. Anyway you slice it, Blue Velvet is a raw work of art, the masterstroke of an eternal artist, and one shard of fabric that all should truly experience before they expire. (**** out of ****)

© Copyright Brandon Valentine 2005