Blue Velvet (1986)

Jeffrey and Sandy hatch a plot.

Jeffrey and Sandy hatch a plot.

Blue Velvet starts with a disembodied ear. Angel-faced neighborhood boy Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan, with some of the smoothest skin I’ve ever seen on screen) finds it in a field behind his parents’ house in Lumberton, WA. A strange thing to find in a sleepy town where families spend time sunning in their backyards and tending to their gardens. Not so strange, of course, when you remember you’re watching a David Lynch film. None of his small towns are ever what they seem to be, after all.

Stuck at his parents house while his father convalesces from a bizarre injury that puts him in headgear, our young college boy is determined to find out the story behind the ear. His first stop: Detective Williams’ office, where he straight-up brings the ear in a plastic baggie. Williams warns Jeffrey to keep his nose out of the case, but the

Ms. Vallens sings.

Ms. Vallens sings.

Detective’s daughter, Sandy (Laura Dern) overhears things that are too interesting and intriguing for her to keep to herself. Her eavesdropping leads her and Jeffrey into the seedy underbelly of Lumberton, a world far different from the suburban American dream.

The story seems to hinge upon Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini), a local lounge singer who’s fallen in with some nasty folks, it would seem. In his brilliance, Jeffrey decides to hide in her apartment to get some clues as to how this woman could be connected to a disembodied ear. He gets way more than he’s bargained for, and is drawn into a world he and Sandy never would have guessed existed right under their noses, a world where a nitrous-huffing madman (Dennis Hopper)

Frank; a dangerous man indeed.

Frank; a dangerous man indeed.

rules the roost, and has no time for neighborly interaction.

Blue Velvet is classic David Lynch. The seeds of Twin Peaks are all here, right down to intermittent close-up shots of fire. It is also perhaps one of the most disturbing films I’ve ever seen. While it does have its humorous moments, it is mostly horrifying. Horrifying because we’re made into voyeurs (and maybe we even like it!), because it might be our small town where all this nasty stuff is going down. It was my first foray into David Lynch oh so long ago, and not knowing what to expect I was quite taken aback by its surprises. Perhaps even more disturbing now is the realization that I was so young when I first watched it, which might help to explain why I have such a taste for screwed up movies! At any rate, this movie certainly isn’t for the faint of heart; if you’re easily disturbed you are definitely not going to dig this. That being said, I absolutely recommend it. Just be warned, if you do decide to give it a go, Roy Orbison will never be the same to you again.


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