Blue Velvet (1986)

Blue Velvet (1986)

An utterly bizarre detective story that makes an even better fever dream than simply a film

The Very Best



United States of America
Crime, Drama, Mystery, Romance
Angelo Badalamenti, Brad Dourif, Dean Stockwell
120 min


Safe to use this as prep for Twin Peaks

What it's about

College boy Jeffrey (Kyle McLachlan) finds a severed ear and decides to act as a detective until he uncovers things he wish he didn't.

The take

David Lynch's star-studded provocation Blue Velvet was both revered and criticised upon its release because of how heavily it leans on sexuality and violence to advance its plot, but today the film's hailed as a contemporary masterpiece. Still, scenes with that kind of content are quite hard to stomach in combination with Isabella Rossellini's depiction of an unstable, delicate singer named Dorothy. But Dorothy is surely not in Kansas anymore... It takes a young college student (Jeffrey Beaumont played by Kyle McLachlan) who becomes fascinated with her as part of his self-appointed detective quest, to uncover deep-rooted conspiracies. In his endeavours, Jeffrey is joined by butter blonde Sandy (Laura Dern), and the twisted love triangle they form with Dorothy in the middle is one for the ages. Dennis Hooper stars as one of the most terrifying men on screen and Lynch regular Angelo Badalamenti scores the film with an eerie precision like no other. 

What stands out

“I don’t know if you are a detective or a pervert!” says Sandy after Jeffrey reveals his plan to spy on Dorothy in her own apartment. What follows is perhaps the most arresting entanglement of creepy and hot a David Lynch film sequence can be. McLachlan is shy, crouching in the tight space of a closet, his performance pacing the breaths; meanwhile, Rossellini's soft presence takes a mere second to harden into suspicion as soon as she hears a sound. She grabs a gun, screams. Then: Fear! Submission! Desire! A wondrous examination of ambivalent desires, between the gun and her velvet gown, this scene distills what is ineffable about this film's strange, dreamy world.


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