Lost Highway

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(1996) ★★★★★

Syfy: Saturday 16 May, 1.10am

Distrustful of his sexy young wife, jazz club sax man Bill Pullman blows hot on stage and cold in the bedroom. Then strange unmarked video cassettes start appearing on the doorstep… Not nearly so strange, though, as David Lynch’s impressionistic noir, an extreme film of dark shapes and shadowy motivations. As Pullman’s life is pulled apart, the movie exerts the hypnotic compulsion of a horrible dream. The plot is frankly baffling – paranoid, paranormal and ultimately inexplicable – but the style is confident and assured. Lynch conjures up a chilling sense of unease with silky visuals depicting squalid and sensual subjects. His use of sound and music is breathtaking, an aural nightmare for trance-like visuals in a natural but nonetheless disturbing progression from the ground-breaking brilliance of Twin Peaks and its prequel, Fire Walk With Me. Mr Lynch’s view of the world might be warped but it’s hard to look away. Lost Highway is a fine film from a peculiar film-maker. As weird and wonderful as Lynch’s Eraserhead debut, it could not exist so powerfully in any other medium. More disturbing than the basically playful Mulholland Drive, it is elemental cinema of the senses, a haunting mood piece that’s like a heavy metal distillation of Twin Peaks’ creepiest bits. The Coen brothers evidently took note of it. There’s a jaw-dropping moment in The Man Who Wasn’t There that could have been lifted out of Lynch’s lost universe. But not everyone will want to wander down this highway. It’s a maze and there’s no way out. Just keep in mind that the song opening and closing this doozy of a trip is David Bowie’s I’m Deranged.

Certificate: 18
Duration: 129min