In "Lost Highway," David Lynch dabbles in spooky, chilly implication and a sort of hip incoherence.
There are pregnant, sustained silences between principals Bill Pullman and Patricia Arquette, a
married couple to whom weird things are about to happen. Thereís an inexplicable murder; there are
bizarre dreams, out-of-body experiences and a gnomelike figure (played by Robert Blake) who
seems to be orchestrating everything. This is a head scratcher, all right. And Lynch, who wrote this
with Barry Gifford (who wrote the novel "Wild at Heart," which Lynch also adapted), doesnít seem
hard pressed to explain it.
Fred Madison (Pullman), a brooding, emotionally tortured jazz musician who plays appropriately
tortured saxophone at a local club, believes his wife, Renee (Arquette), is having an affair. He also
suffers a series of nightmares which are emceed -- as it were -- by a bilious, puffy faced man
(Blake). At a party, Fred runs into the same mystery man, who knows he was in Fredís dream. It
gets worse. Renee is brutally killed, and Fred (who has no memory of her slaying) is accused of --
and jailed for -- the murder.
Fred disappears from his cell -- inexplicably, of course. In his place is Pete Dayton (Balthazar
Getty), a young auto mechanic with a big gash on his head. Bewildered, the authorities release Pete.
Now we follow his story.
Returning to the garage where he works, Pete (who has no recollection of how he ended up in that
cell) gets a visit from a local crimelord (Robert Loggia) who has an interesting blonde bombshell in
the car with him.
The moll, Alice, just happens to be played by . . .ā Patricia Arquette.
Maybe diehard Lynch fans will go for this stuff, especially with composer Angelo Badalamentiís
ominous chord crunches -- similar to the ones he used in Lynchís "Twin Peaks" -- and such
background songs as "Iím Deranged" and "Something Wicked This Way Comes." But the questions
remain: Is the frequently naked Alice the same woman as the slaughtered Renee? Is Pete the same
man as Fred? And who the hell is that weird little guy?
Apparently, no one should expect anything as helpful (and uncool) as an explanation to all this.
"Highway," which Lynch has pretentiously dubbed "a 21st-century noir horror film," is nothing
more than a 20th-century cul-de-sac. The maker of such great works as "Blue Velvet" and "Twin
Peaks" has finally run out of road.
LOST HIGHWAY (R) ó Contains nudity, sex scenes, violence, profanity and the kind of slow
pacing that could lose an empire.