Directed by: David Lynch
Written by: David Lynch
Starring: Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper, Laura Dern, Hope Lange
The cover and protection suburbia offers come from its inception and the separation from the dangers of the city. Staying within it becomes optimal to create this innocent perspective of the world, as the layer of separation may be thinner than you believe. A concept that comes to fruition in this enthralling thriller.
The young Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) finds an ear when heading back home, which he delivers to the police and kickstarts an investigation. After being told to lay off and forget about the incident, as the authorities set to take over, Jeffrey begins to get more inquisitive as to what may be happening. He enlists the help of the detective’s daughter, Sandy (Laura Dern) to secretly look into this situation more.
Blue Velvet opens its story by taking a look at suburbia, with the flowers and the white picket fences all around. A sublime and, most importantly, a calm atmosphere, and then the camera begins to peer down lower and lower beneath the grass to see a wide array of insects mating and running around. A perfect symbolic visual to represent this story and how everything appears to look fine on the outside, but plenty of odd and disgusting behavior happens nearer than we would want to believe. For Jeffrey to find the ear, it created an intrigue that could not be done away with by hearing the finale of the police investigation. He needed to find out more himself, which gets him into quite the pickle.
Jeffrey develops this insatiable appetite he cannot fully explain. Even when asked by Sandy, why he’s continuing with this, he responds with, “I don’t know.” He cannot put the thoughts together to formulate a purpose behind this venture of his, but he’s seduced by the seediness of it all. It leads him to the apartment of Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) and from there he learns about the tortuous situation she has found herself in and the man, who is responsible for it all. I love the mystery of this film with how it unravels information without really explaining anything. I would expect nothing less from David Lynch, as he tells the story and when you look back upon it, plenty of information was left out.
Much of the mystery Jeffrey attempts to discover has no real purpose behind it, instead, it just proves to be a horrifying situation all of them have found themselves in. The person who makes it all that way is Frank Booth portrayed by Dennis Hopper. What a performance given by the veteran, as he takes on such a vicious but oddly comedic character. He holds Dorothy’s child hostage for her to play out some weird kink of his. One could sit and analyze the strangeness of what he finds to be sexually gratifying, but it leads directly to the title of the feature. So many great lines come from Frank, including his incredibly strong preference towards Pabst Blue Ribbon rather than Heineken and his almost childish level of profanity. He represents a dark force working behind the scenes of this suburban neighborhood, and he almost becomes an enigma with how little is revealed.
The rest of the cast includes Kyle MacLachlan, Laura Dern, and Isabella Rossellini portraying the heroes of this story, if they could be described in that way. Rossellini’s Dorothy and Dern’s Sandy each represent two different worlds Jeffrey navigates during this journey. Dorothy is an alluring figure of a world he has never experienced, which arouses him while Sandy represents the purity of the suburbs and what he should pursue in a partner. The pendulum swing between the two of them symbolizes the way he shifts in his desire to live and experience. After he finds himself in the dreaded situation of crossing paths with Frank, he becomes a passenger, just like the audience, to the madness he has stepped into. Frank takes him to different places in his attempts to torture the young man and all of it gets stranger until the final stop.
As with any David Lynch film, it takes me two tries to appreciate everything he’s attempting to do with his films. The only one that hit me right away was Eraserhead, but others like Mulholland Drive and this feature left me in shock on the first viewing and then the second attempt allowed me to sit back and see the brilliance of his work. It makes it intimidating to watch any of his features, as they never play out in a typical fashion and seek to freak you out more than entertain. A true auteur in every way.
Put on the Blue Velvet robe and take in an experience, which will make you feel uncomfortable in several ways. This film breaks the conventions of what a young adult experience in the suburbs looks like in the cleverest ways and leads us down the rabbit hole to meet a group of people we wished we never knew. Enjoy the weird laughs that will sporadically jump out while something horrific immediately follows it.