Blue Velvet (1986) Review

Out of all the directors I’ve come across in my cinematic travels, David Lynch is probably one of the most memorable of the lot. I’ve only seen two of his films, but I will never ever forget them. His magnum opus of oddity Eraserhead remains continually stuck in my brain as a movie I need to see several more times. If you haven’t seen that, check it out. You will literally never forget it, barring mental disease. His transition to Hollywood after Eraserhead is just as interesting and coming of the reasonably unsuccessful Dune, he released 1986’s Blue Velvet. It’s Lynchian nature is definitely present, but almost weaved in and out of a movie that most will enjoy. Blue Velvet is a conundrum in my head, and coming off of just watching it, I may be in the worst position to review it. It puts you under a spell, entrancing you with its story and then yanking you back and forth with its symbolism that you should obviously be seeing, but not quite understanding. So let me try and put my inquiring mind aside and actually look at the film that captivated me so.

The film centers around Jeffrey, whose investigation into an ear he found leads him to Dorothy Vallens. Along with Detective’s daughter Sandy he unravels the mysterious goings on in Dorothy’s life, ultimately becoming involved in them himself. The acting is hard to judge. It’s convincing, but convincingly weird. We somehow get the impression that the odd line reads and inconsistent interactions are part of the world and eventually they make sense in their own way. Stand out performances go to Isabella Rossellini as the tormented Dorothy and Dennis Hopper as Frank Booth. Frank is a fascinating character. His entrance into the film marks a turning point where the movie changes from a mid-50s Hitchcock movie to an 80s drama and boy oh boy could you dissect his character for hours. The odd combination of inadequacy, possibly homosexual tendencies and over-compensation are absolutely fascinating to watch.

As I said before this film starts out very 50s in its style and setting. It’s colors, suggestive imagery and characters all suggest 50s suburbs. It’s not until we get to Dorothy’s apartment that the darker world starts to infest the movie. Then when Frank shows up the movie completely flips, immersing Jeffrey and the world into the darkness and it’s only with the help of Sandy and her love for Jeffrey that the world is once again brought into the light. It’s tough to believe that “Love Conquers All” is the message in a Lynch film, but the cyclical nature of the symbols and motifs seem to suggest it. Again, another watch is needed.

The colors and light are played on constantly in this movie, making it feel like a colored film noir. Lynch seems to love working with shadows, in a way very reminiscent of German expressionism. It pervades through the movie and even if you can’t garner it’s meaning, it’s certainly something to look at. The color as well is unique to look at, as for a movie called Blue Velvet it certainly has a lot of red. Almost all the shots have some primary pop to them, but reds seem the most dominant. Perhaps to give more contrast to the blues.

Blue Velvet is a suspense movie that remains suspenseful for the entirety of the movie. The sense that there is more going on then meets the eye adds to the experience and most certainly gives it rewatchability. You absolutely should see this film. If you are even slightly into stranger movies, of any kind, then this will give you plenty to feast on and if you’re as into film as I am, then this movie will be great discussion fodder for a long time to come, especially if it’s accompanied by Eraserhead. So while I haven’t talked much about the quality of this film, I’m sure you can tell from my gushing that Blue Velvet is worth your time.