Blue Velvet review – still inventive, sexy and bizarre

Blue Velvet Still

Erotic, neurotic, euphoric and at all times unutterably twisted and bizarre, David Lynch’s Blue Velvet is back in cinemas, 30 years after its original release: an intensely 80s movie with an intensely 40s noir template: a baffling and unique palimpsest of styles and associations.

From the dreamy, disquietingly intense vision of picket-fence America, a macabre drama emerges. Clean-cut Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) is walking home when he discovers a severed ear on the ground: does that ear stand for the director’s own hyper-sensitive perception of underground stirrings, the secret life of underground America? I continue to wonder, incidentally, about how Jeffrey comes to be walking anywhere, given that we later see him at the wheel of a gorgeous red convertible.

Jeffrey conceives a fascination with nightclub singer Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) who sings Blue Velvet, while her abusive, misogynist sugar-daddy Frank (Dennis Hopper) watches, caressing a sample of this same material. Jeffrey breaks into Dorothy’s apartment to spy on her – a classically Lynchian Alice-down-the-rabbit-hole or Alice-through-the-looking-glass moment – and indulge a dysfunctional romantic rapture, in which he witnesses how she is abused. The film releases a toxic narcosis of fear. The standing-up dead man in the yellow suit – kept upright by some kind of rigor mortis or final act of will – is an invention of pure horror.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Peter Bradshaw, for theguardian.com on Thursday 1st December 2016 21.45 Europe/London

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