Lost Highway [retro review]

“Call me. Dial your number. Go ahead.”

The Scoop: 1997 R, directed by David Lynch and starring Bill Pullman, Patricia Arquette, Balthazar Getty, and Robert Blake

Tagline: No tagline.

Summary Capsule: We’re honestly not sure what happens in this movie. But it creeped us out.

Justin’s Rating: Great googely moogely!

Justin’s Review: As if you care, in 1997 I became extremely hooked into David Lynch’s world of Twin Peaks, devouring all original two seasons’ worth of shows in the space of mere weeks. Then I got my friends addicted. It was strange to be in on a phenomenon that had been over for years, but the trippy dialogue, quirky characters, and fantasy-merged-with-reality world appealed to us.

So if I liked Lynch’s show, I must be a fan of his movies, right? Riiiiiiiight. I have yet to meet a Lynch movie that I like — for several reasons — yet I keep giving him the benefit of the doubt, and kick myself afterward for doing so.

The problem with Lynch doesn’t involve his unorthodox characters or dialogue or even his engagement to film noir. The problem is that Lynch apparently considers himself unrestrained by the common rules of filmmaking. You know, such rules as having a plot make sense by the end of the movie, tying up loose ends of subplots, and making symbolic imagry clear to the audience. In short, his movies are a heap of “Huh?!?” in a bowlful of sour milk.

I’ve talked with people that claim to love Lynch’s films and also claim to understand them. Or maybe they love the fact that they CAN’T understand them. But I just don’t… get it. He could be making these films into classics if he’d just take an extra three or four minutes to EXPLAIN things, instead of leaving it up to the vague imaginations of the viewers.

Take for example the cult movie Lost Highway. It has some incredibly interesting elements, and hooked me into the story from the start. For instance, there’s this guy in prison that mysteriously switches place with our main character in the space of a night. There’s the creepiest-looking villain who has the apparent ability of being in two places at once. There’s a murder that somehow involves a femme fatale’s background. And there’s a highway.

See, while all of those elements might be cool, there’s no real thread that connects any of it. This film is just some really long, really slow scenes with some “Boo!” moments along the way. The main story and key characters switch places midway, like a do-over in motion. There’s no attempt to tie things up at the end; the film kinda just drifts away. Heck, I’m not even sure what the mystery was, or who the main characters were, or what the creepy guy had to do with ANYthing. But, hey, there’s a highway. And for long, intensely boring stretches of film, we see a guy driving on it. We can assume, from the film’s title, that this highway is lost. Perhaps it is trying to find another movie, or at least another director with the sense to stop making his idiotic dreams into movie scripts.

I guess that best sums up Lost Highway: it’s a vivid dream, in the sense of having bizarre images and no tie-ins to segue between scenes. Just wait until I review Fire Walk With Me.

You ever dance with the Devil in the pale moonlight?


  • Fred’s phone number ends in the digits 666. This is revealed when he dials it at the prompting of the mystery man.
  • Marilyn Manson cameos as a famous shock-rocker, who appears near the end of the film in a pornographic movie, rolling on the floor.
  • The house that Fred Madison lives in, along with most of the furniture in it, belongs to, and was designed by, director David Lynch.

Groovy Quotes

Mystery Man: We’ve met before, haven’t we.
Fred: I don’t think so. Where was it you think we met?
Mystery Man: At your house. Don’t you remember?
Fred: No. No, I don’t. Are you sure?
Mystery Man: Of course. As a matter of fact, I’m there right now.
Fred: What do you mean? You’re where right now?
Mystery Man: At your house.
Fred: That’s crazy, man.
Mystery Man: Call me. Dial your number. Go ahead.

Ed: Do you own a video camera?
Renee: No. Fred hates them.
Fred: I like to remember things my own way.
Ed: What do you mean by that?
Fred: How I remembered them. Not necessarily the way they happened.

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • Twin Peaks
  • Fire Walk With Me
  • Mulholland Drive

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Wild At Heart | Mutant Reviewers

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