One travels down Lost Highway concerned about
shoulders — David Lynch's, that is. The weight of the world has been on
them ever since 1986's ground-breaking Blue Velvet, a
singularly provocative freak show this flailing filmmaker keeps
trying to match without the earlier movie's crucial element of
surprise. Or so it seems.
Disallowing TV's Twin Peaks to complicate debate, Highway
is at least more titillating and a little less boring than Lynch's
other post-Velvet salvos, though not initially. This is because
Lynch and co-writer Barry Gifford devote 45 minutes to a
borderline enervating prologue that might have been wrapped
up in 15. Its principals: a sax player (Bill Pullman), his
brunette wife (Patricia Arquette) and a mysterious Fellini-like
character in modified Munsters pancake makeup and lip rouge
At this point, Arquette is murdered and Pullman convicted -
whereupon the latter's soul (or something akin) inexplicably
passes into the body of a young auto mechanic (Balthazar
Getty). From here on out, the movie never makes quantifiable
sense, though viewers willing to throw up their hands and yell
"whoopee" may be fleetingly enticed to see how it plays out.
The new players: Getty, an underworld "Mr. Big" (Robert
Loggia), a porno ring and a blond Arquette (either the same or
different person a la Vertigo's switcheroo).
Though nothing is resolved, amusing Lynch trademarks
abound, from an unintimidating actor (Pullman for Velvet's
Kyle MacLachlan), retro-1950s indoor sets, archly monotonic
police interrogations and discombobulated music (bossa nova
to Nine Inch Nails). Visually arresting, the movie does keep
you going until the finale confirms suspicions that Lynch has
painted himself into a corner.
It's true, as many are already saying, that Highway occupies a
middle range between Velvet and Lynch's wretched Wild at
Heart. Big deal. That's also true of nearly every movie that'll
come out this year.
(R: nudity, sexual content, profanity,