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After his dad keels over on the front lawn and ends up
in the hospital, college student Jeffrey Beaumont heads back to his picture-perfect
hometown of Lumberton to provide family support. Walking home from the
hospital one day, he cuts through a meadow. There he spots something
nestled amidst the grasses; a closer look reveals that it’s a severed
human ear. Good citizen that he is, he promptly wraps it up and brings
it into the local police station, where the police chief thanks Jeffrey
for his help and sets out to investigate the matter. Jeffrey’s curiosity
is piqued; eager to find out if the police have made any progress, he
later shows up at the chief’s house hoping for an update. To Jeffrey’s
disappointment, the chief politely informs Jeffrey that it’s against
policy to discuss ongoing investigations with the public. As it turns
out, though, Jeffrey bumps into the chief’s daughter on his way out.
She’s a sweet high school student named Sandy, and she remembers that
Jeffrey used to go to her school. Her bedroom also happens to be above
her dad’s home office, and as a result, she’s overheard a few things
about the investigation that she shouldn’t have. In particular, she knows
a name’s been mentioned as a possible lead: local lounge singer Dorothy
Vallens. With Sandy’s help, Jeffrey tracks down Dorothy, who turns out
to be involved in dealings for more twisted and sinister than the fresh-faced
college boy could have ever imagined existed in his quaint and quiet
first time I watched Blue Velvet, ages ago now,
my reaction was pretty simple: I really didn’t like it all that much.
I’d been a huge Twin
Peaks fan, loved the funny-quirky characters and stylized-stiff
acting, found myself mesmerized by all that weird dialogue and dark
Blue Velvet had all this too, but it also made me
deeply, deeply uncomfortable. Its sadomasochistic sex scenes and
bizarre, not terribly
sympathetic leading lady (Isabella Rossellini as Dorothy) -- all
that freakiness made me squirm. It took a long time before I could
force myself to sit down and watch this supposed classic again. Whether
it was just that I was better prepared to be disturbed or just that
I’m a little older and no longer demand that all movies deliver barrels
of ha-has, this time around, Blue Velvet drew me
in. True, its subject matter makes it hard to watch, but its lush
aesthetic beauty means
you can’t take your eyes away no matter how much you might think
you want to. And this, of course, is the point: the superficial pleasantness
of suburbia has never been stripped away in quite so memorable and
vivid a manner. In Blue Velvet, Lynch makes us look
beyond the immaculate green lawns and apple-cheeked smiling neighbors,
and question what
all that bland niceness might be hiding. He and his fine cast – notably
a positively scary-loony Dennis Hopper and a campily wonderful Dean
Stockwell – do such a good job of getting us to dig beneath the surface
that by film’s end, it’s those flawless lawns that start to look
a little creepy: they’re so manicured, so fake, in their perfect
prettiness. A lazy popcorn flick this certainly isn’t, but there’s
no question: Blue Velvet offers a truly different
take on the same-old tired murder mystery genre, and serves up a
of small-town romanticism on the side.—reviewed
by Yee-Fan Sun
lounge . nourish
. host .
. home .