A critique manual could be written based solely on the study of the work of David Lynch as producer/director and screenwriter. No one in film today can strain the intensity out of script and an actor’s presentation of role as can he…repeatedly. Yet Lynch seldom departs from the actual horrors visited on mankind to do so, merely taking things to conclusions sometimes earned of a sense of the inevitable he can gift scripts with in ways, though perhaps bizarre, still credible. This is his forte’, one others have copied. In making Blue Velvet, he creates a setting of contrasts where intensity is magnified by the vastness to be found between innocence and guilt, living within boundaries and living without such restraint. Coupling this with the exploration of the complex villain in depth, the movie acquires an almost inter-dimensional quality, a tradition the viewer will recognize continuing in Lynch’s later work.
The casting in the role of the young Jeffrey Beaumont, Kyle MacLachlan opposite Dennis Hopper as the psychopath, Frank Booth is as contrasting as that of Sandy Williams, Laura Dern, to Isabella Rossellini as the sex enslaved, Dorothy Vallens. The town of Lumberton (Small Town, USA) is about to meet Gotham City’s Joker. Further contrast is accrued by placing the young Jeffrey in a home setting nurtured by the accomplished actresses, Priscilla Pointer and Francis Bay. Lynch doesn’t miss a stroke. Of course Dennis Hopper is magnificent. A little penchant his character has when he’s about to commit mayhem is sheer genius. What this affords the climax-building tensions is inspired.
Laura Dern as a high school sweetheart who becomes embroiled in a conflict that leads to intense dramatic scenes serves her role with both professionalism and flair. The complex and demanding role Isabella Rossellini serves is satisfied splendidly, unsurprisingly. Supporting cast is impressive although used very selectively in the same sense David Lynch employs highly selective camera work.
The significance of the film’s title is brought home in several scenes. An almost constant nostalgia is maintained…again in stark contrast to the more contemporary styled brutalities of today. Even the villainous Frank Booth is made to appear momentarily lapsing into a seeming forlorn past at times. His bizarre behavior thus comes to suggest possibilities of his own brutalization. Like some study of the serial killer/rapist, only the viewer is spared the usual psychobabble attendant. Lynch has found a way to break with such mindsets while still presenting their story. Not a small feat.
It is at times like this the viewer may come to realize that sometimes Hollywood can appreciably take up where the rest of media has left off. Thank God for that.
Not a movie for children, even some childish adults. Nudity, much intense language and some intense thought required.