Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

David Lynch has now done three different takes on the story of Laura Palmer and Twin Peaks, each one a slightly different perspective. The original show used the story as an anchor point for supernatural horror mystery and parody of soap opera. The Return used it as an excuse for Lynch to make a (barely related) eighteen-hour epic. His most mature take on the subject matter is probably here, in Fire Walk With Me.

The Bob of the original Twin Peaks was a literal demon, an evil entity escaped from the netherworld to possess the living. Here, Bob becomes a metaphor. Leland Palmer is never possessed, nor is he metaphysically evil, nor insane. He is a sexual predator and murderer, sure, but he operates on the purely human plane, more akin to Blue Velvet’s Frank Booth, and all the scarier for it. In Fire Walk, Bob is the one who’s real, and Leland is just a disguise.

The film also offers a more heartfelt look at Laura herself. In the show, Laura was portrayed as living this double life: homecoming queen by day, self-destructive loose cannon by night. But the show never had much interest in why she behaved this way. Fire Walk doesn’t sidestep this question, but rather confronts it so directly that it doesn’t even come across as a dramatic reveal: Laura acts out because her home is toxic and she doesn’t know how to cope. Her father abuses her in every way possible and her mother does nothing to intervene or support her. In this context, it’s obvious why she undermines all her friendships and pursues vice with wild abandon. 

Does the film still get caught up occasionally in Lynch’s unending quest for weirdness? Admittedly, yes. Pretty much the entire first act is mostly surreal and disjointed vignettes of Lynch’s goofy conception of how the FBI works. They’re fun and interesting bits in their own right, but honestly they kind of distract from Laura Palmer’s story, which is where this film really comes into its own. 

Honestly, I think it may be one of Lynch’s best.

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