Lost Highway (1997)

Largely critically-derided when first released, this violent and erotic nightmare gleefully explores male guilt and fantasy, one that now makes so much sense in Lynch’s terrorising world of weird-ass folks with weird-ass obsessions.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Review #2,273

Dir. David Lynch
1997 | USA | Mystery/Thriller | 134 mins | 2.39:1 | English
Not rated – likely to be R21 for bizarre violent and sexual content, and for strong language

Cast: Bill Pullman, Patricia Arquette, Balthazar Getty
Plot: Anonymous videotapes presage a musician’s murder conviction, and a gangster’s girlfriend leads a mechanic astray.
Awards: Official Selection (Sundance)
Source: Studiocanal

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Slightly Disturbing – Obsessions, Perversity, Guilt
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse

Viewed: MUBI
Spoilers: No

Largely critically-derided when it was first released, Lost Highway can now seem on hindsight to be an amalgamation of what’s so great about David Lynch’s filmmaking. 

It might just also be the most accessible of all of his puzzling, bizarre works, though it is of course still a mind-boggling affair; as such, it might be worth reassessing Lost Highway inasmuch as it is a good entry point for those new to Lynch’s terrorising world of weird-ass folks with weird-ass obsessions. 

Moreover, it is an excellent testbed of ideas and styles that would in some way lay the groundwork for his magnum opus, Mulholland Drive (2001), much like Kurosawa’s Kagemusha (1980) to his Ran (1985) if one were to put it that way.

“There is no such thing as a bad coincidence.”

Patricia Arquette is at her most sultry, playing not one but two lookalike characters as Lynch explores (not for the first time) his love for doublings and dualities. 

On one hand, she is the quiet wife of a musician who one day receives an anonymous videotape; on the other hand, she is a femme fatale whom a car mechanic falls dangerously in love with. 

These two narratives intersect in ways that only Lynch could dream of—in some kind of warped psychological reality where evil lurks not just in the mind, but also the countless corridors that the film camera floats around in. 

A frightening, experiential mood piece that gleefully explores male guilt and fantasy, Lost Highway is a violent, at times gory, but mostly erotic nightmare where perverse desires, physical afflictions and paranoia converge.  Just like his later underrated Inland Empire (2006), the scary thing is not knowing if it will ever end.

Grade: A-



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