Blue Velvet (1986)

In David Lynch’s idiosyncratic drama, a young man’s curiosity draws him into the twisted criminal sub-culture operating beneath the placid surface of his cosy hometown.

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“Taken on any level, Blue Velvet is an utterly unique act of cinema: an 80s Hollywood studio film as radical, visionary and cabalistic as anything found in the avant-garde.”
Michael Atkinson, Blue Velvet, 1997

Following the big-budget failure of Dune, Lynch’s dazzling return to more personal filmmaking earned him a second Oscar nomination. The discovery of a severed ear leads clean-cut Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle Maclachlan) to uncover a nightmarish flipside to sleepy small town Lumberton, as he becomes dangerously complicit in the perverse relationship between tormented chanteuse Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) and deranged gangster Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper).

Informed both by the underground experiments of Kenneth Anger and the 1950s melodramas of Douglas Sirk, Lynch’s visually arresting film has a singularly skewed power. Alan Splet’s dense sound design and the first of the director’s many collaborations with composer Angelo Badalamenti contribute to the film’s immersive texture, while Hopper is unforgettable as one of cinema’s most unsettling grotesques.

Lynch expanded on Blue Velvet’s vision of diseased utopia with his influential TV series Twin Peaks (1990), and its prequel, Fire Walk With Me (1992).

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