Dir. by David Lynch - 2 hrs.
by Clayton Hollifield
It's difficult watching movies that come with reputations. Particularly one like this - I've seen a couple of other David Lynch movies ("Dune," "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me"), so I had an idea going in the level of weirdness that might be achieved. And since a large amount of the reputation of this movie had to do with the weirdness within, the big question was how bad things were going to get.
What I came away with was a movie that part absolute genius (partially due to written material, but also the absolute commitment from Dennis Hopper and Isabella Rossellini), and a much less successful attempt to juxtapose the, I suppose you'd call it, perversity with a white-picket fence world (the fence is actually shown at the beginning of the film, I'm not just stereotyping). The night world, drug-fueled and unpredictable, is such strong material (still bold and shocking in it's vividness and sexual tension nearly 25 years later) that it makes the plastic artificiality of the moral world outside of Rossellini's Dorothy Vallens' apartment fall flat.
Reviews of this film range from pegging it as an absolute classic to Roger Ebert's 1-star review - I fall somewhere in the middle. I think it's a must see, particularly if you're into any kind of surrealist film-making, but the stratospheric, exhilarating highs of the film don't exactly make up for how little I was able to buy into the side of the film represented by Laura Dern's character. It's almost necessary to see Dennis Hopper rampage, to see Dean Stockwell's laconic detachment playing off of Hopper's aggression and coarseness, to see Isabella Rossellini portrayal of a nearly frightening female sexuality, but I felt the dichotomy between unrestrained indulgence and the picture-perfect American life was done better in "Twin Peaks." This is a noteworthy movie, but it's not the masterpiece I was hoping for. I almost wish I had seen it not knowing anything about it going it. I don't think the American dream scenes would have played any better, but maybe I wouldn't have expected them to, either.
3.5 / 5 - Streaming