Even if it were good, and it isn't, the movie is too long by half.


A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.

With "Lost Highway" David Lynch plays an ugly joke on the audience: "Take this, take that; I dare you to sit through my self-indulgence. To sit through this one is to know you've been had. It's an insult both to us and to the honorable tradition of films noir.

The complexities of the 1940s spelled the end of straightforward gangster movies featuring the arrogant mobster and his shallow but decorative moll. World War II granted women independence at the same time the country was becoming interested in psychology. Out of this mix rose a new kind of screen heroine with a taste for underworld glamour and the dark side of life. Freshly minted with complexities of their own, women became Barbara Stanwick, men, Robert Mitchum. They were cool, tough, and stylish, and they were enveloped by the culture of cigarette smoke.

"Lost Highway" races down the broken yellow line, changing from fast lane to faster, asking all the right questions of the genre: Who am I? If I am this, am I also this? But any exploration of inner selves better have style, and this movie has none. Mark two notable exceptions who are stranded in bad material: actors Bill Pullman and Robert Loggia.

It is fatal in a movie of this sort--to examine the elements because the elements are supposed to add up to a stylish whole, no questions asked, no narrative needed. Mess with them individually and everything crumbles. So let's look at the whole. Fred (Bill Pullman) and Renee (Patricia Arquette) are a couple troubled by unseen intruders who are spying on their lives. When day turns to night, nothing is what it seems, people are not who they are supposed to be. Sharp hallucinations end abruptly in unexplained violence.

Pete (Balthazar Getty) and Alice (Patricia Arquette), a garage mechanic and a moll, are the other selves of Fred and Renee, and all of them are equally unappealing. Patricia Arquette tries for high style, but misses. You either have it or you don't. Natasha Wagner's Sheila has such a little girl voice that she is out of place even in a hallucination.

The black nights of this ordeal are filled with surveillance by boring men of suspects whose transgressions remain unexplained. When the screen isn't filled with bodies heaving in unimaginative, repetitive sex, it is covered with blood--not drops but puddles of the stuff.

The ingredients of this ugly film are motels, parking lots, older men who are shady and powerful, guns, knives, and black leather. In the absence of both motivation and emotional connection, nothing sustains our interest. Don't bother trying to look at the movie in the abstract, in which symbols might offer rescue. There aren't any. Whenever you are tempted to consider David Lynch's pretensions, a quick second thought will remind you that you are watching hogwash at your own expense. Even if it were good, and it isn't, the movie is too long by half. It's junk.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 500
Studio : October FIlms
Rating : R
Running Time: 2h15m

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