MOVIE: ***** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
I’ve been a big fan of David Lynch ever since I watched “Twin Peaks” in the 90s. Through the years, I’ve scattered through his films, rarely seeing them any time close to release. In many ways, I was too young to fully understand his heyday of the late 80s and early 90s. “Wild at Heart” was lost on my early twentysomething self, and I was completely confused by “Blue Velvet” when I watched it as a teenager.
Fortunately, “Blue Velvet” is getting a hi-def release on Blu-ray now, and it’s a brilliant film to revisit. The story follows two young adults – Kyle MacLaughlin as college-aged Jeffrey and Laura Dern as the high school beauty Sandy – as they play amateur detectives in the idyllic small town of Lumberton. Jeffrey and Sandy travel to the other side of the tracks to investigate a severed ear he found in a field, only to discover the seedy underbelly of the town and a psychotic kidnapper and pervert named Frank who is coercing an aging lounge singer.
For as diverse as Lynch’s filmography is, “Blue Velvet” is quite possibly his masterwork. There’s a strange mix of comfort and beauty with terror and awfulness. Like his earlier surreal work, things don’t quite fit into our universe, but they pop out of the screen as real.
The cast is amazing, featuring the return of Dennis Hopper and the daring performance by Isabella Rossellini as the tortured victim. Lynch takes the audience along with him from the manicured lawns into the seedy world that Frank inhabits.
Lynch shows us a bizarre mix of culture, fashion and techniques. The viewer is never 100% aware of when this is happening. It could be the 80s. It could be the 50s. It could be in a parallel universe. But it’s a fantastic universe that sucks you in. The sexual depravity and violence in the film is relatively tame by today’s standards, but it’s exceedingly uncomfortable. Rather than being graphic, it’s strange. It’s perverse. It’s unique. And it makes you fear the dark side of this idyllic small town.
The movie looks gorgeous on Blu-ray, featuring a slick transfer and great sound. Having only seen it on pan-and-scan VHS in the 80s, it was like watching a whole new movie for the first time.
Special features on the Blu-ray include lost footage, the original TV review from Siskel & Ebert, behind-the-scenes vignettes, outtakes, trailers and TV spots. Of course, the best part of the Blu-ray is the feature-length documentary “Mysteries of Love,” which dissects the film and explains how it came to be.