Blue Velvet finds David Lynch back on familiar, strange, territory. Picture takes a disturbing and at times devastating look at the ugly underside of Middle American life.
The modest proportions of the film are just right for the writer-director’s desire to investigate the inexplicable demons that drive people to deviate from expected norms of behavior and thought.
The setting, a small town called Lumberton, seems on the surface to be utterly conventional, placid, comforting and serene. The bland perfection is disrupted when a man collapses in Kyle MacLachlan’s yard and is further upset when he discovers a disembodied human ear in an empty lot.
He begins investigating whose ear he might have found, and ends up spying on local roadhouse chanteuse and prostie Isabella Rossellini. Peeping through a closet keyhole, what he sees violent client Dennis Hopper do to sweet Rossellini launches MacLachlan into another world, into an unfamiliar, dangerously provocative state of mind.
Rossellini, dressed in lingerie or less much of the time, throws herself into this mad role with complete abandon. Hopper creates a flabbergasting portrait of unrepentent, irredeemable evil.
1986: Nomination: Best Director