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Lost Highway

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Lost HighwayLost Highway is great. A lot of critics didn’t think it was so hot. I like it a lot. The ideas it contains are less obfuscated than in some of David Lynch’s films, or they are more transparent, less incisive. The execution of these ideas is sometimes less than perfect (exhibiting some of the least effective uses of sound, dissonant and tonal, in any part of Lynch’s oeuvre). But it is structurally delightful, never misses a beat, folds in on itself in a magnificent conceit (I disagree with those who think this is clumsy; at least it’s not a trite resolution to the deliberate ambiguities of a television pilot-turned movie). If Pullman isn’t the most convincing jazzer, everything else seems to be in the right place. His impotence is searing, and his fantasy perfectly foreshadowed. Check out Loggia, who is a terrifying villain in the mould of Hopper and Freeman. The symbolism ties together a few Lynch tropes – I thought the red curtain, the use of deep blacks, and the usual slow fire and explosion motifs potent. Some of the anxieties that sweat out toward the end elicit great empathy, and some of the image/sound composition toward the beginning is affectively distressing – look out for one or two moments, particularly the face merge, which have as significant a physiological impact as any jolts in Wild at Heart, Inland Empire, and that revelatory episode of Twin Peaks. There is disequilibrium reminiscent of the sound balancing in Wild at Heart too, so I’d expect it to be quite a visceral experience in the cinema. If you appreciate the aesthetic choices of Mulholland Drive, and the best ideas of Twin Peaks, this is the ideal middle ground. If you aren’t a devotee to Lynch, then you might wonder why it matters, and drift off. So let yourself – he still knows what’s cool, intuitively grasps atmosphere. It’s quite a wild ride.


Lost Highway, Dir. David Lynch, Writ. Lynch & Gifford, Prod. Mary Sweeney, October Films, USA, 1997; available on DVD


Written by James P. Campbell

25/04/2009 at 12:10

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