movie film review | chris tookey

Blue Velvet

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  Blue Velvet Review
Tookey's Rating
9 /10
Average Rating
7.05 /10
Kyle MacLachlan , Isabella Rossellini , Dennis Hopper
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Directed by: David Lynch
Written by: David Lynch

Released: 1986
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 120

An innocent young man (Kyle MacLachlan) discovers the dark underside of Middle America.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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An odd, deliberately unpleasant film which arouses strong emotions for and against. Dennis Hopper's memorable portrayal of a sado-masochistic nutter is all the more disturbing because our young anti-hero finds himself turned on by his brand of sexual violence, and seduced away from his nice, apparently conventional girl-friend (Laura Dern).

Just as disturbing for the audience is that Hopper's female "victim" is a masochist. Isabella Rossellini's raw, painfully felt performance remains vastly underrated, perhaps out of political correctness: women are not supposed to get sexual satisfaction out of being humiliated.

Blue Velvet poses an unreal polarity of options for the hero - bland sweetness and light on the one hand, seductive darkness and depravity on the other - but the film is a refreshingly black corrective to the sugary sentiment so prevalent in most Hollywood cinema. And its visual style - a combination of garish 50s colours and the shadows of 40s film noir - remains unusual and arresting.

The plot may be unclear and the message facile, but even today the film packs a punch. It joins a small but select number of horrific rites-of-passage movies, such as River's Edge and Carrie, underrated by critics on release for the same reason: they were reviewed as though they were realistic, rather than expressionistic.

Lynch's opening image - of insects and death lurking beneath the surface of bourgeois America - says it all: this is a very pessimistic, punk film which sees the adult world from an almost hysterically adolescent point of view - it makes poetic sense only if we see all the events as filtered through the distorting mind of its young hero.

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