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Haunting sexuality, ricochet action and fleeting, murderous shadows await you on a journey that begins and ends on the Lost Highway. The successful jazz musician whose marriage is on the rocks… The man in black who threatens to expose him… The young mechanic with links to a powerful mobster… The mobster's moll, who knows what she wants and the people who can get it for her. These are the riders on the Lost Highway, trapped in their worlds of desire, destiny, and unknown destination, where the truth is always just a short way further down the road. Featuring a star-studded soundtrack and an incredible cast including Bill Pullman (Independence Day), Patricia Arquette (Medium), Balthazar Getty, Robert Blake and Robert Loggia, Lost Highway is a powerful, sensual and extraordinary movie experience from renowned director David Lynch (Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks).
Plot is a meaningless term when trying to describe Lost Highway. Here, more or less, is what happens: A noise-jazz saxophonist (Bill Pullman) suspects his wife (Patricia Arquette) of infidelity. Meanwhile, someone is breaking into their house and videotaping them while they sleep. The wife is murdered and Pullman is convicted of the crime. Then, in prison, he transmogrifies into a young mechanic (Balthazar Getty) who is subsequently released, since, after all, he's not the guy they convicted. Getty goes back to his life and meets a local gangster's moll, who happens to be played by Patricia Arquette... but none of this has much to do with what the movie is really about. Dreams are what intrigues director David Lynch. Not friendly, happy dreams; his dreams whisper that what we think is real is just something we made up, something to keep ourselves from falling into chaos. Characters are fragments. Events happen not because they make sense, but because deep down we want these things to happen. Of course, in Lynch's dreams, as in our waking lives, getting what we want is not always pleasant. In the movie's best moments, you really have no idea what you're seeing. The screen is a big rectangle of color and shadow, but what it represents, well, it could be anything. And yet, in those moments, you've been given just enough hints of place, character, and story that these elusive images elicit a genuine dread, a sense that you might not want to see this, yet you can't look away; a sense that we are living on borrowed time, that something is fiercely askew in our psyches. As a whole, Lost Highway is a failure: much of it is padded, gratuitous, and indulgent and pointless cameos bog down an already sluggish narrative. Yet within that failure are moments worth more than the entirety of most successful movies. --Bret Fetzer
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The storyline gets confusing but if you’re looking for a film to make you think, this is it!
If you're already a David Lynch fan then I won't preach to the choir because you already must love this film. However, if you're new to Lynch's work, you must not expect anything 'normal' to happen. He usually breaks the rules of linear story-telling. This effort is no exception. The film, according to one theory, is one man's nightmare dreamt from inside the cell of a penitentiary, but it is time displaced and characters switch roles. The nightmare is based on what we can only assume is real events that involve the main character murdering a young woman whom he loves, but who is tied to a nefarious character named Mr. Eddy. It's hard to tell who Lynch sees as the real villain here - Mr. Eddy or the girl.
Knowing the dream/nightmare premise, though, you can stop wondering what's going on and just enjoy the ride. If you're of the Freudian psychoanalysis school of though there will be a lot to keep you focused. If not, there's still enough linear filmmaking here to keep you enthralled as in a 'normal' movie, but there's enough strange weirdness (Robert Blake's character for instance) that tips you off that this is all a really wacked out nightmare. The fact that it is probably based on actual events that the main character is remembering in the dream makes it all the more chilling.