Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Blue Velvet (1986)

IMDB plot summary: The discovery of a severed human ear found in a field leads a young man on an investigation related to a beautiful, mysterious nightclub singer and a group of criminals who have kidnapped her child.
Directed by David Lynch. Starring Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper, and Laura Dern.

This is the first David Lynch movie I've seen, and... I don't get it. Now, granted, I knew that was a risk watching Lynch, but it's not because the plot is too symbolic or convoluted. It's actually pretty straightforward. But I just don't quite understand the point of it all.

I went and looked up a bunch of reviews about it afterward to see what I was missing, and I think the most enlightening were Roger Ebert's review (he was NOT a fan) and a few that referred to it as a "neo-noir." The main message of most noir films is usually along the lines of "everyone is corrupt/broken/screwed up," and I feel like that's definitely the central idea here too. Thinking of it as a noir made a lot of sense for me, because I had the same emotional response to this as I do to most of those: "OK. So... that's it?"

Ebert's primary complaint was that the very serious violence/sex scenes were surrounded by campy, cheesy, almost comedic scenes, and he felt that the lighthearted scenes made the serious ones seem like a joke too. The more I think about it, the more I think that was part of my problem as well. I did think that the most interesting and compelling scenes *were* the most disturbing ones, but putting it within the framework of "there's a mystery to be solved!", especially by a college-aged kid, really cut down on my emotional reaction to the darker aspects and made them seem a bit cheap.

This is a complicated film, and as you can tell, I'm still muddling through my thoughts on it. There were a few very striking moments, but overall I'm left with a feeling of "I don't get it. What's the big deal?"

2.5 stars.

Flickchart: #1190 out of 2179, below Runaway Bride and above Lilo & Stitch, which would be two of the weirdest movies ever to watch alongside this one.

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