Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986)
[originally posted 23Jul2001]
In a long and storied career, Dennis Hopper has played a whole lot of weirdos. He may be second only to Christopher Walken in the weirdo market. But none of his characters has been as out-and-out nutzoid as good old Frank Booth. Even if the rest of this movie were flat, boring, and unimaginative, Hopper would carry the day. Being a David Lynch film, though, it’s anything but flat.
The story centers around Jeffrey Beaumont (Lynch vet Kyle MacLachlan), home from school after his father suffers an unspecified attack of some sort while watering the lawn one afternoon. On his way home from the hospital one day, Jeffrey discovers a severed ear in a field. His desire to play amateur detective gets him embroiled in some very nasty dealings, eventually leading to his meeting Frank Booth, and Frank’s band of malcontents (Brad Dourif, Jack Nance, and J. Michael Hunter). But as far out there as Frank is, he’s a piker compared to the movie’s oddest ball, Ben (Dean Stockwell). Stockwell’s performance as the utterly corrupt and sociopathic Ben is, at the very least, Oscar-worthy, despite his small amount of screen time (less than ten minutes).
Lynch spent twenty-five years attempting to bring his vision to the silver screen, having first germinated the idea that ultimately became Blue Velvet in 1963. Patience paid off, and the final realization of Lynch’s longtime dream may be his strongest film. A must-see by any standards. **** ½