Blue Velvet (or, The Conflicted Existence of Suburbia)

Saturday, September 4, 2010 9:03 AM By Simon

-Why the added paranethesis in the title? Because, like The Saddest Music in the World (which, coincedentally, shares many elements. Isabella Rosselini...the color blue...), giving it a mere 'Thoughts on' headline won't give it justice. This could be argued for many of the films I've seen, but this one specifically, it just feels so...inappropriate.

-Surprisingly, this is maybe David Lynch's most straightforward movie (aside from the aptly named The Straight Story). Symbolism abound, yes, but there is a narrative, with a coherent story and almost no homeless monsters living behind fast food restaurants.

-A young man named Jeffrey (Kyle Maclachlan, before he got all Desperate Housewives-y) home from college after his father suffers a stroke. On his way home from the hospital, he happens upon a severed ear in a field, and...uh, yeah. Weird shit happens.

-Has anyone ever noticed that Lynch always seems to be making fun of dialogue among sububurbanites or otherwise well-adjusted people? In Mulholland Dr., for example, Betty (Naomi Watts, duh) is an exaggerated innocent of middle American, spouting her corny phrases with such unironic conviction it's almost unsettling. Same for the hitman and his target in the beginning, such forced normalcy. That's what it's like in this movie, Jeffrey especially. His interactions with his neighbor, Detective Williams (George Dickerson), and his daughter Sandy (Laura Dern) is so intentionally off, enthusiastic small talk.

-Isabella Rossellini and Dennis Hopper. I'll just say it, they transcend criticism. So thoroughly do they immerse themselves in these fucked-up characters, I'd almost feel bad not lauding them.

-Frank Booth is the best villain ever.

-Still. I'll never listen to 'In Dreams' the same, man.


If I had a blog... said...

Very Good! I am a dyed-in-the-wool Lynch deciple having seen "Eraser Head" in college...I couldn't get enough. You are correct in that Rossellini and Hopper are above critique, although some of Isabella more recent cameos make Blue Velvet seem...pedestrian.

The production values on the film were brilliant and Lynch slapped criticism in the face from earlier films by adding visuals to taunt critics "opening seen with bright flowers and white fence" as compared to the grays and sepias of Elephant Man and Dune.

Anyway...good post, and review. The film is definitely a keeper:)

Be well,

September 4, 2010 at 9:54 AM
Peter Eramo said...

One of the very best films of the 80's no doubt. I put Booth in my Top 5 Villains in a recent post of mine. he has it all and Hopper was perfect for it. You are right that this may be one of Lynch's most straight-forward films....his work is a lot like his art now and very abstract. He is one of our true filmmaking visionaries and does not compromise, which I love. Blue Velvet may be his masterpiece.

September 4, 2010 at 11:12 AM
Vancetastic said...

I'm echoing Peter here, but that's what I thought when I saw Blue Velvet for the first time, sometime in the mid-1990s: "Wow, this is not nearly as fucked up as I thought it would be." It's basically a straightforward story that is slightly askew in all the right ways. I'm obviously a fan of straightforward Lynch, as The Straight Story is actually my favorite film he's directed. Then again, Eraserhead is my second favorite, so who knows.

September 4, 2010 at 12:44 PM
Fitz said...

It's the easiest film of his filmography to follow. I still don't know what the hell happened in Mulholland Dr.

September 4, 2010 at 4:57 PM
Dan said...

One of my fave Lynch films, if not my number 1. It's the perfect film to use to introduce people to Lynch because, as you say, it's relatively coherent compared to his other movies. But it also highlights his sensibilites as a storyteller and his penchant for the dark side of human nature.

September 5, 2010 at 4:38 AM
Patricia ~ The Naked Writer said...

hmmm david lynch ...his movies always seem to punch me in the head repeatedly with a baseball bat i love how far out his shit is but sometimes it just hurts my brain

September 5, 2010 at 8:25 PM
CMrok93 said...

I have always said this was a lot more straight-forward than it's given. Yeah, it's got the crazy symbolism, and weird happenings, but it still is kind of easy to follow. Great stuff!

September 6, 2010 at 7:59 AM
Darren said...

Have to confess, I think it's great, but not as great as most say. But then, I'm more a Cronenberg man than a Lynch man. Although I do worship the first season of Twin Peaks.

September 7, 2010 at 12:41 AM
Simon said...

If I had a blog: Oh, Lynch makes a hobby of dick-slapping critics in the face. He's brilliant like that.

Peter Eramo: It seems to be a toss between this and Mulholland Dr, doesn't it? Booth is the best villain, yeah.

Vance: Well, it's not like there's many like Straight Story.

Fitz: It assaulted my eyeballs, that's what happened.

Dan: I'd call it a gateway drug, but I wouldn't.

Patricia: Sometimes? When has David Lynch not strangled your brain?

CMrok93: Tis.

Darren: As well you should.

September 7, 2010 at 7:27 PM