Unless you're a David Lynchaholic, "Lost Highway" ultimately is a lost cause.
The comic drama-cum-horror story is not without its moments.
There are some nice vignettes sprinkled throughout, but not enough
to fill 2 1/2 hours. The movie surprises us at times, amuses us at
others. But in terms of producing a narrative that has us on the
edge of our seats or characters with whom we've formed a bond, it
comes up woefully short.
When Lynch is at his outrageous best - "Eraserhead," "Blue
Velvet" and the "Twin Peaks" TV series (not to be confused with the
1992 movie spin-off) - viewers tend to either love his stuff or hate
it. But either way, it grabs them. This doesn't grab. We have no
emotional stake in the movie, plot or protagonists.
In typical Lynch fashion, the iconoclastic writer-director
doesn't want the audience to know exactly what we're watching. So he
blends reality with hallucination, romance with violence and humor
with horror. A character played by Bill Pullman suddenly is played
by Balthazar Getty; meanwhile, Patricia Arquette and Robert Loggia
turn up in multiple roles.
The first half-hour consists primarily of posing. Fred Madison
(Pullman, "Independence Day") is a jazz saxophonist who suspects
that his wife (Arquette, "Flirting with Disaster"), is having an
affair. They spent a lot of time being uneasy in each other's
The story kicks into gear with the arrival of the Mystery Man
(Robert Blake, "Money Train"), a Faustian devil who has shown up to
claim a few troubled souls. One of them, apparently, is Fred's.
To say more about the story would be a disservice. For one
thing, it would ruin the plot's surprises - some of which make
sense, most of which don't. But getting caught up in a blow-by-blow
report of the narrative also seems to fly in the face of the spirit
of the film, which is more interested in evoking a mood than telling
Fred experiences a series of bad dreams that eventually turn
into an extended nightmare in which Lynch plunges over the cliff of
surrealism. The viewer is left to ponder which character represents
Lynch: The Mystery Man, who manipulates others with or without their
permission, or Fred, who is being dragged down into a whirlpool of
Many of the best moments are little asides that have little to
do with the plot. Among these is a gangster (Loggia) who gets
really upset when people tailgate his beloved car.
Part of the reason these vignettes are so entertaining might be
that they are among the few things to which the viewer can relate.
Too much of the rest of the film smacks of Lynch wrestling with his
private demons. In that respect, we're left wondering if "Lost
Highway" is more of a movie or a therapy session.
2 out of a possible five stars
- Starring: Bill Pullman, Patricia Arquette and Robert Loggia.
- Director: David Lynch.
- Review: Although amusing at times, this horror story eventually loses its way in a surrealistic nightmare that leaves the viewer uninterested in the characters and the story.
- Rating: R, violence, profanity, sex.