Lost Highway

23  JUN

Directed by  David Lynch
Written by  David Lynch, Barry Gifford
Starring:  Bill Pullman (Fred Madison)
Patricia Arquette (Renee Madison/Alice Wakefield)
Balthazar Getty (Pete Dayton)
Robert Blake (Mystery Man)
Robert Loggia (Mr. Eddy-Dick Laurent)
Runtime: 135 minutes

I am biased, I knew I wouldn't have been able to view this movie without being influenced by my Twin Peaks addiction. However, this also means that it would have been easy for me not to appreciate Lost Highway in the event it didn't fully conform to my expectations. Fortunately, my hopes haven't been disappointed and Lost Highway turned out to be one of the best movies I've seen recently, possibly the best of this season!

I have to point out immediately that this is not a movie for everybody. If you like conventional movies then you'll find it boring, absurd and pointless. However, if you are open to different kind of movies and if you manage to enter into the strange Lost Highway world, I'm sure you'll appreciate it much more than many other accessible but also 'plain' movies.

Trying to narrate the whole story is somewhat useless and is also impossible given its non linearity and its bizarre structure. At the beginning of the movie, the main character is a sax player whose life is tormented by the troubles with his wife and by some mysterious video tapes that shows him sleeping in his own bed. When he is accused of the murder of his wife and locked into a prison, his identity seems to change into a younger man who is freed from the prison and continues living his own life...

I have to admit that the beginning may seem a bit slow, especially for people who are not used to David Lynch intense movies where you can never know what is going to happen next, what's inside that black corner or corridor, what's behind the camera while a character stares at it... Since I am used to these things and I appreciate them, I found the first part of the movie very scary. When I say 'scary', I mean deeply terrifying, not just on the surface, not something like horror movies such as I Know What You Did Last Summer that may have some frightening moments but didn't manage to keep the tension high for long enough.

There are many things that make the movie interesting, first of all the characters. They are all so strange, mysterious, strong, the interconnections between them are not always obvious but as soon as the story proceeds the links become a bit clearer. The most impressive character is obviously the Mystery Man who features a spooky and pale face, some apparently senseless speeches, and whose whole meaning in the story is never explained but can be implied.

This last point is the main quality of the movie: nothing is explained, the strange facts are shown but then there isn't a final resolution that answers to the many questions the viewers have. Actually, the finale is surprising because I was expecting something more, some extra hint, especially regarding one (of the many!) mysterious point that I thought was left too open but that, after a more scrupulous analysis, doesn't seem to require further details.

The careful and stylish direction of David Lynch is evident throughout the whole movie. Lost Highway sports some of the usual 'Lynchian' touches, from the cast (eg. the typical cameo of Jack Nance), the strobe lights and white/blue flashes, the red curtains, etc. The music is also particularly catching, there are a few strange german (or reversed-english?) songs played with a very high volume which create a great atmosphere.

After all, this is not a movie that can be seen lightly, it is a movie that must be analysed and dissected, in a probably hopeless attempt to find an explanation for all the weird events shown. Only after the end of the movie it is possible to start an investigation of the symbolism, of the duality of the characters and of the infinite loop structure which may give the interpretation key to the whole plot. I spent hours trying to put the pieces together, finding the meaning of various scenes and speeches, the relationship between the characters, the events, giving more and more significance to small details. In the end, I think I found a sort of 'rational' explanation of the whole story which may or may not be the 'correct' one... I wonder if there is such a 'definitive' interpretation of Lost Highway, probably there isn't one...

Rating: 8.5  *****

Links:  Lost Highway Discussions Record
Lost Highway Explained: A Web Site




© Copyright Sergio Monesi, 1997-1999.
Last updated: 25 Jun 1999