Twin Peaks - Fire Walk with Me
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Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (DVD)
Meet Laura Palmer...In a town where nothing is as it seems...And everyone has something to hide.This prequel to the television drama series "Twin Peaks," which chronicles the seven days leading up to the brutal murder of Laura Palmer in a small logging town in the Pacific Northwest, is written and directed by David Lynch and stars Kyle MacLachlan, Heather Graham, David Bowie, Chris Isaak, Harry Dean Stanton, Kiefer Sutherland and more.]]>
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The main character in FWWM, of course, is Laura Palmer, played by gorgeous and talented, Sheryl Lee, reprising, and giving life to, her role as the mostly-dead homecoming queen who washed up on the banks of a lake next to Pete Martell’s house in the series’ first episode. Lee was briefly able to emote in the TV show, not as Laura, but as her look-alike cousin, Maddie Ferguson, who was also brutally dispatched after a few episodes. In FWWM, Lee gives an amazing performance as the tormented Laura, the eternal victim, whose degradation and abuse takes her below the tranquil, happy surface of the town of Twin Peaks. In virtually every scene she’s in, Lee is awesome. She is, by turns, touching, maddening, seductive and heartbreaking as she tackles the role of the enigmatic, doomed anti-heroine. Kyle MacLachlan returns as Special Agent Dale Cooper, but only briefly, as the events of the film transpire before those in the series (and before Cooper was much involved). The head FBI agent in FWWM is well- played by singer, Chris Isaak, who at first seems to be the hero of the piece, an assumption quickly dismissed about 45 minutes into the movie. David Lynch, himself, has a couple of brief, funny scenes (the only humorous moments in the movie) as Isaak’s and Cooper’s boss, and David Bowie is properly strange and alarming. The rest of the cast is also very good in their allotted time onscreen, and we get to see a more fleshed-out version of Ronette Pulaski, (returning Phoebe Augustine), another high school prostitute and cohort of Laura, who accompanies her on her ill-fated trip into the deep, dark woods. Having grown used to Lara Flynn Boyle playing Donna (Laura’s best friend) in the TV show, it’s a little disconcerting to watch Moira Kelly taking on the role in the movie. Kelly is fine, but different, which is pretty much an accurate summation of the film. I like it, I think it’s excellent, but it is different from what I was used to seeing on the TV show.
The Criterion release 4K digital transfer is newly awash in heightened, beautiful colors and the sound is much clearer than on the previous DVD release. At times, scenes exhibit the allure of a master’s painting (although a painting by Bosch, maybe). The extras include deleted scenes, interviews with Sheryl Lee, Ray Wise (who played her cheerfully sinister father) and Grace Zabriskie (Laura’s high-strung, in-denial mom), trailers for the film, and a great booklet featuring an interview with David Lynch.
If you haven’t seen the movie and never saw the TV show, I think it’s necessary to watch the series first just to understand the events in the film, because Lynch assumes that moviegoers are already familiar with many of the characters, their motivations and their fates. When you do watch the film, leave behind any assumptions that it will be a mystery with darkly comic overtones like the TV show. “Fire Walk With Me” is a dark horror story that stirs up emotions and, for better or for worse, remains with the viewer after it ends.
Its depictions of domestic abuse are intense and well handled, showing the audience a lot of the motivations behind Laura Palmer's darker side. There are many genuinely frightening scenes, and the surreal moments are some of the more memorable images from the series. The film opens with a great sequence outside of Twin Peaks where we learn a little more about the larger mystery and how the FBI is involved in hunting BOB before Coop ever visits Twin Peaks.
It should also be mentioned that there are noticeable absences in this movie. Kyle McLachlan was feeling burned by the way Season 2 went, and had to be convinced to appear in the movie. There is a part early on (you'll know which one) which was originally meant to be Cooper, but McLachlan wanted a smaller role. However, the most notable absence is Lara Flynn Boyle who played Donna Hayward, Laura's best friend. She flat refused to join the movie about Laura's final days, and as a result her role was recast. Moira Kelly does a solid job in the role, but it's hard to buy that it's even the same character. Part of me likes this version of Donna better than the one she transformed into in Season 2, but it still feels very strange watching everyone treat this totally different person like she's Donna. I definitely think the movie suffers from the casting issues, but it's something that is not difficult to look over.
So should you watch this film? Well, that's difficult to answer. I don't think general audiences will enjoy this one, but if you enjoyed the darker and more surreal elements from the original run you will probably like this movie. It offers frustratingly few answers about the many mysteries surrounding the original show, but it does provide context which can change any further viewings of the original run. Furthermore, if you plan to watch Twin Peaks: The Return you will need to watch this film. There are many references to characters and mythos elements established in this film which you'll miss, and given how dense and uncompromising TP: The Return is you don't want to miss a thing.
So in closing, I really liked this movie, but it's certainly got its flaws, and it barely feels like Twin Peaks. Watch at your own discretion, and I hope you'll enjoy it.
I would also advise to watch the movie with captions on as there some nice nuggets of hard to hear dialogue.