Lost Highway

on February 21, 1997 by Jon Matsumoto
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   Shadowy underworld figures and seductive but faithless women are prominent elements in this shadowy work that employs both classic and avant-garde artistic sensibilities. Part film noir thriller and part surreal horror epic, "Lost Highway" could have been concocted only by the slightly deranged mind of David Lynch, its director and co-writer.
   The lengthy but engaging film is actually divided into two sections that connect in a haunting and unquestionably bizarre manner. Initially, moviegoers are introduced to Fred Madison (Bill Pullman) and his wife Renee (Patricia Arquette), both typically oddball Lynchian characters who behave as if they've just popped out of some "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" pod. Their relationship is icy, to say the least, and it's possible that Fred suspects Renee is having an affair. The couple start to show some human life when they begin finding mysterious videotapes on their doorstep. The first tape is simply brief footage of the front of their upscale home. But the following tape shows the couple sleeping in their bed and the third tape finds Renee viciously murdered. As it turns out, the attractive brunette really has been butchered, and Fred is the thoroughly discombobulated prime suspect. These events connect to a strange and patently evil man that Fred had recently met at a party. Looking very much like Death from Bergman's "The Seventh Seal," this palefaced mystery man (Robert Blake) has a chillingly omniscient view of Fred's life.
   The second section of the film features Pete (Balthazar Getty), the favorite mechanic of an underworld figure named Mr. Eddy (Robert Loggia). The crime boss treats the young man like a son. But, when Pete can't resist the sexual advances of Mr. Eddy's favorite young mistress Alice, he finds himself being pulled into a sordid world of murder and pornography. This femme fatale is also played by Patricia Arquette in what initially seems like a bit of clever casting; eventually, it's clear that there's some kind of otherworldly connection between Alice and Renee and Fred and Pete. Again, the smirking mystery man appears to further tie the two segments of this outrageous thriller together.
   "Lost Highway" does possess more baffling loose ends than would be tolerable in a conventional movie, yet it's unrealistic to expect a David Lynch film to be always conventional or completely understandable. What Lynch does do wickedly well is distort reality and exaggerate human behavior in a way that's both wryly satirical and disturbing. "Lost Highway's" best moment features Mr. Eddy and his henchmen running a tailgater off the road with their sleek Mercedes. After beating the frightened man to a pulp, the suddenly pious mob boss begins to lecture the driver about the dangers of tailgating. This oddly hilarious scene is not one you're likely to forget easily. Starring Bill Pullman, Patricia Arquette, Balthazar Getty, Robert Blake and Robert Loggia. Directed by David Lynch. Written by David Lynch and Barry Gifford. Produced by Deepak Nayar, Tom Sternberg and Mary Sweeney. An October Films release. Drama. Not yet rated. Running time: 135 min
Tags: Bill Pullman, Patricia Arquette, Balthazar Getty, Robert Blake, Robert Loggia. Directed by David Lynch. Written by David Lynch and Barry Gifford, Produced by Deepak Nayar, Tom Sternberg, Mary Sweeney, October, Drama
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