Pros: very cool, dark soundtrack; some visuals
Cons: unengaging characters and story; unsatisfying
I’ve never been a David Lynch movie fan. Bizarre, violent films with lots of stylized sex leave me cold and wondering why I’m trying to figure them out. His biggest movies, Mulholland Drive and Blue Velvet, are cut from the same cloth as 1997’s Lost Highway and so if you enjoyed either of them, you’ll enjoy this mindbender too.
This is a long film, well over two hours, in which there’s scant substance served up with scant clothing. A young, good-looking couple living in a designer house are aping zombies as they feign interest in each other’s lives and go their separate ways for the night. The husband has received a cryptic message at his door; the wife (played by Patricia Arquette as seen above) finds mysterious videotapes with the morning mail where it’s revealed that somebody is stalking them in their home. The last one shows the wife brutally murdered and the husband feels like he’s lost his mind.
Suddenly he’s arrested for her murder and thrown in solitary while he awaits execution. We know as little as he does. He’s got a terrible head wound and headache and asks for the prison doctor because he can’t sleep. The next morning the guard gapes at the sight of another man alone in his cell!
See that guy above? Bill Pullman as the accused murderer. Sometime during the night he morphs into a younger guy played by Balthazar Getty and the prison has to release him. Now we follow this guy to his job as a mechanic, getting hints from his family that he disappeared last night and is acting strange. At his shop a gangster shows up for his usual tune-up from him and takes him for a ride, then next time brings his gorgeous mistress with him. She looks very similar to the supposedly murdered wife and this guy wants her…
I’m not going to tire you with more details. It doesn’t make sense unless the mystery man in clown face that the husband was threatened by at a party early on is an evil magician or the mythological devil. Maybe, with a ghostly foundation for Lost Highway, this haphazard string of striking images may be pulled together, but only by a thread.
That’s Robert Blake portraying the mystery man, never looking better I daresay. Bad guy? Well, if wanting a gangster involved with a wealthy porn producer to be murdered is bad, right? I’m guessing this guy’s motivation is irrelevant, though, and let’s just be thrilled by all the titillating, sensual sexplay and the beautiful woman stripping with a gun to her head. Except that it’s not thrilling for me.
Lost Highway, with its badass soundtrack featuring David Bowie, Trent Raznor, Smashing Pumpkins and even Lou Reed, is really more about lost people on the highway, lost chances for Lynch to find an intriguing plot, and a lost audience who either hopes it’ll find its way or doesn’t care if it does. I can’t even decide which type I am, oh my!