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Blue Velvet Reviews

Weirdness, big time. The seamy side of small town Americana from---who else?---David Lynch. When archetypal college student Jeffrey Beaumont (MacLachlan) finds a severed human ear in a deserted field, he enlists the help of innocent high-schooler Sandy (Dern) in finding the body to which it once belonged. The key to the mystery is nightclub chanteuse Dorothy Vallens (Rossellini), whose husband and child are being held hostage by the demoniacal Frank Booth (Hopper), who sexually torments the singer in exchange for the safety of her loved ones. Eventually Jeffrey probes so deeply into this dark and troubling mystery that he comes face to face with Booth, the very embodiment of evil. As if to demonstrate the film's premise that people would prefer to avoid the dark side of life--the sadism, perversions, fetishism, drug addiction, and violence--many critics complained that BLUE VELVET was "dangerous" in its exploration of these traits, contending that these taboos were better left in the closet. Director David Lynch addresses that belief here--Hopper, the voice of evil, demands that people not look at him, while MacLachlan, the voice of good, not only looks but fights back. All of this revolves around the film's mystery elements, which are on a par with the innocent whodunit mentality of a Hardy Boys-Nancy Drew episode, although the rest of the film is deeply disquieting and sexually aggressive, not to be seen by those easily repulsed. There are certain similarities between this film and Alfred Hitchcock's 1943 classic SHADOW OF A DOUBT, in which Joseph Cotten's "Uncle Charlie" is a demented murderer whose diseased presence threatens a quiet California town. Surprisingly, for a picture as steeped in controversy as it was, BLUE VELVET did earn Lynch a Best Director Oscar nomination. In addition to the Bobby Vinton title tune, the film prominently features the Roy Orbison tune "In Dreams," and a lush score by Angelo Badalamenti. Depending on your point of view, either dark-sidedly brilliant or garbage heaped on top of whipped cream.