Blue Velvet ★★★★★

This was the first David Lynch film I had seen, and I remember feeling a little let down by it (though I still liked it). That was five years ago now, and coming back to it was an amazing experience. It turns out all I really remembered was the beginning, end, and some of the Dennis Hopper scenes. I basically got the gift of watching a Lynch film that was almost entirely new to me, and now I understand why most people rate it as their favourite of his.

While the director's filmography often deals with cynicism/optimism, with one undercutting the other at various points, it's here that this tonal argument is best exemplified. I feel like you could watch this movie and come away thinking love triumphs all, or that the conclusion is merely a cruel joke on its characters, or somewhere in between. The same expert balancing act takes place with the postmodern pastiche of pulp mysteries, 1950s noir and Hitchcockian voyeurism, with the darker psychological horror at play. It's not just a dark twist on this genre, however, as there is a sincere approach to a lot of its tropes. The main difference is that instead of getting caught up in a world of corruption and betrayal, Jeffrey is pulled into one of Freudian obsession and toxic sexuality.

There's something to be said for how the film, deliberately or not, punishes you for your own voyeuristic desires. What was a dangerous, exciting first encounter between Jeffrey and Dorothy is interrupted by the wonderfully fucked up performance from Dennis Hopper. Jeffrey doesn't get to stay hiding in the closet, and we don't get to indulge in any erotic fantasy without being faced with its darkest corners. His cocksure attitude and curiosity is punished, and his childish excitement is met with the most complex and adult of situations. In the end, the only way to continue is to pretend that this world is no longer there, and stay within the white picket fences

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