Title: Blue Velvet
Release Date: September 19, 1986
Director: David Lynch
Production Company: De Laurentiis Entertainment Group (DEG)
I’ve long liked the work of David Lynch, but I missed this one so it was good to have an excuse to finally watch it. The story tells of Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) who returns home from college to his hometown of Lumberton, North Carolina to help out when his father is hospitalized. On a walk through the woods he finds a severed ear and becomes obsessed with discovering the mystery behind it. The daughter of a police detective, Sandy Williams (a very young Laura Dern), informs him that the police suspect a singer named Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) may be connected to the case. Jeffrey begins to surveil Dorothy which leads him into a world of trouble.
I won’t go into the details but Jeffrey uncovers a criminal conspiracy lead by the extremely disturbed Frank (Dennis Hopper). I really enjoyed the first part of the movie when it was a stylish noir mystery, but once Frank is revealed and Jeffrey is brought into his orbit I found it less interesting. Frank is an amalgamation of every abusive, gaslighting, self-aggrandizing asshole I’ve ever know and I really don’t need to spend my time watching that. I was also disappointed that both Dorothy and Sandy tended to fall into the “damsel in distress” trope. There are reasons for that, but I think there were opportunities to have one of them seize initiative.
Overall though I appreciated that direction, cinematography, and overall mood of the film, which is aided by the selection of great music to fit the scenes. The acting of all the leads is excellent, even Hopper as the all-too-convincing raging psychopath. I’m really surprised to learn that Dern is about a decade younger than I realized. I guess since she was making movies when I was in middle school it didn’t occur to me to realize she’s just a few years older than me.