Oh, I was scared about Blue Velvet. My previous two encounters with David Lynch's movies haven't gone as well as planned and my pretty prosaic brain was kind of freaking out, but then I thought the sooner I
The film follows a college student, Jeffrey , who returns to his hometown after his father has a stroke. While returning from a hospital visit, he finds a human ear in a field and soon he starts investigating it with the help of a police detective's daughter, the pretty and rather square Sandy. They soon find out that all of this is connected with the mysterious and troubled nightclub singer Dorothy Vallens and a very dangerous man called Frank.
Simply put, Blue Velvet is a neo-noir made by David Lynch. There are many typical noir elements- a morally confused hero, a femme fatale, a twisted villain and of course, it is very stylized. One of my favourite things about the film was its look, from the bright, primary colours to the way it uses darkness. This duality reinforces the theme of the movie- a look at an idyllic town with a very seedy underbelly. And it is here where the Lynchian elements come to play because obviously, the film has some surreal and weird parts but thankfully not to a great extent. There were no nightmare creatures waiting behind a diner nor, well, anything from Eraserhead *shudders*.
Coming back to the theme, I liked how the two different worlds that Jeffrey inhabits in the movie are shown. I don't know if this was intentional, probably yes, but I found many of the interactions between him and Sandy hilarious- they are just so bland and pleasant. The "good" world that Jeffrey comes from has a sort of 50s perfectly perfect perfectness about it that is always strange to witness. In contrast, the underworld that he discovers is vivid and sexy and dangerous and oh so crazy, all of which is embodied by Dorothy, played by Isabella Rossellini. She was my favourite thing about the movie- so messed up but absolutely enticing. I loved her look, the way she sang, her pain, her "disease". I was almost equally impressed by Dennis Hopper's Frank. He was extremely creepy and totally unhinged, but some of the things he said made me laugh so much. The whole gas inhaling habit was terrifying but damn if all of this didn't result in making him an unforgettable villain!
Kyle MacLachlan played Jeffrey and his blank canvas look felt perfect for the kind of film this was. Even though I loved Rossellini and Hopper more, the preppier foil that MacLachlan and a very young Laura Dern, who played Sandy, provided was needed to make them standout.
Among the other aspects about the film that I appreciated, there are two that I must mention. One is related to its look that I spoke of earlier. At a number of crucial points in the movie, Jeffrey peeps through Dorothy's closet and sees things taking place in the apartment. This voyeuristic element really stood out for me and it helped build up some of the most thrilling moments in the movie. There is a certain sick quality about all this and though I did find Jeffrey somewhat plain, it helped make him a more interesting character.
The last element of the film I really adored was its soundtrack. No, I won't really be purchasing it any time soon but within the context of the film, it worked so well. I was practically in stitches during Ben's "performance", mostly because of the other people in the room. So strange yet so amusing. Same goes for the woman dancing on Frank's car when he's intimidating Jeffrey. I must also confess that I had no idea that the song "Blue Velvet" existed before Lana Del Rey sang it but it has already become one of the best movie-songs I have seen/heard in my experience.
There is of course a lot of symbolism and psychological issues in the film too. But as someone wisely told me, "Think of it like a song where the lyrics don't make sense," I watched it without letting myself get distracted by all that. It is much more rewarding thinking back upon it afterwards and I have definitely been doing a lot of that.
So yes, though I was scared about Blue Velvet before watching it, it has most shockingly been my favourite Blind spot entry so far and while it has not decreased my fear of Lynch's movies, my curiosity has certainly been spiked.