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Blue Velvet (1986)

by British Film Critic

This film was my introduction into the very strange world of David Lynch, and I feel like that was a good thing. Blue Velvet makes a noticeable decision to methodically ease you into the surreal blend of dream and nightmare fuel that drives the film at its core, introducing this instantly through an expertly directed opening sequence, visually deconstructing the innocent perception of suburbia and foregrounding perfectly what is to come.

The sense of mystery is perpetual throughout, and, like almost all of my favourites, the narrative complexity exponentially increases as the film goes on, always keeping you on your toes and allowing for complete unpredictability when it comes to the narrative direction, leaving you lost in the dreamscape of Blue Velvet with nothing but to surrender yourself to it.

I’d think it’s pretty safe to say that David Lynch is effectively as far as you could get from a conventional director and storyteller, yet despite that, Blue Velvet seems to work against that grain, maintaining a rich lucid atmosphere whilst progressing through a seemingly conventional narrative that’s relatively easy to grasp onto, yet in his injection of the obscure and the surreal into this conventional story set in a conventional small town, we get to see something very different and very special from the filmmaker.

Dennis Hopper gives nothing short of an outstanding performance, perhaps the best I’ve ever seen from him, as a deranged, eccentric psychopath who’s endless idiosyncrasies not only make for some incredibly memorable moments, but also do a great deal in developing the surrealism that underpins everything in this film, from the performances, to the dialogue, to the scenery, to the sound design.

Blue Velvet seems to occupy a world between our reality and a complete surreality, and here we find ourselves constantly questioning this ‘reality’, something that Lynch does a fabulous job maintaining through every aspect of his direction, making for an atmosphere that I can’t say I’ve ever experienced from any other film before and I can’t imagine I will experience from any other film again.