The most striking characteristic of humans is that two people who witness the same reality will draw completely different conclusions.
One person observes that this world is beautiful, loving, luxurious, and joyful.
Another person with the same background observes that this world is grotesque, terrifying, unjust, and miserable.
And to complicate things, both people are 100% correct.
Positive people will never run out of amazing things to be grateful for. And negative people will never run out of unfair things to rail about. That’s why there are hundreds of fantastic feel-good movies and hundreds of powerful pessimistic pictures.
David Lynch is the first filmmaker to do both at the same time. “Blue Velvet” is an unambiguously happy love story. Also, every perverse and despicable human vice is on display.
Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) is a bored – and boring – college student. He has returned to his quiet, wholesome, sitcomy hometown to take care of the family hardware store while his dad is sick.
One day, Jeffrey finds a severed human ear on the ground. He isn’t scared; he’s intrigued.
Jeffrey enlists the help of a sweet high school senior named Sandy (Laura Dern) and begins some serious amateur detective work. The young sleuths fall in love as the case gets weirder and weirder.
The weirdest is Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper). Frank is an Amyl Nitrate-huffing, drug dealing maniac. Frank is dangerous, scary, and unpredictable.
This is Dennis Hopper’s greatest performance. He was in edgy movies like “Easy Rider” and “Apocalypse Now,” but David Lynch was the first filmmaker to fully unleash the madness of Dennis Hopper.
Frank is as evil as they come. But the genius of the character is that he’s also hilarious at times. I love Frank’s obsession with mediocre, mass-produced beer. “Heineken?!” he yells in disgust. “**** that ****! PABST. BLUE. RIBBON!”
The comic relief is helpful. Because there is nothing funny about Frank’s love interest/victim Dorothy (Isabella Rossellini).
When Dorothy catches Jeffrey sneaking around her apartment, he’s shocked to discover that she’s into it. She immediately pulls him into her world of masochistic, shameful sex.
But, wait. What about sweet Sandy? Isn’t Jeffrey a jerk for putting her in danger and two-timing her?
David Lynch’s surprise answer is no. Jeffrey was boring before this adventure in the criminal underworld. Now he’s confident and passionate.
“Blue Velvet” doesn’t contrast good and evil. It argues that life is an amazing mixture of wholesomeness and depravity, and you can’t fully enjoy one without the other.
Some critics describe the Disney-esque happy ending as surreal or dreamlike. I disagree. I think it is the logical conclusion to this optimistic, feel-good movie. David Lynch envisions our world as a beautiful place that’s also full of violence and cruelty.
I’m not sure unhappy people will love “Blue Velvet” as much as I do. How can you be happy with so much horror in the world? The movie asks: how can you not be?