Combustible Celluloid
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With: Bill Pullman, Patricia Arquette, Balthazar Getty, Robert Blake, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Richard Pryor, Lucy Butler, Michael Massee, Jack Nance, Jack Kehler, Henry Rollins, Giovanni Ribisi, Scott Coffey, Gary Busey, Robert Loggia
Written by: David Lynch, Barry Gifford
Directed by: David Lynch
MPAA Rating: R for bizarre violent and sexual content, and for strong language
Running Time: 135
Date: 01/15/1997

Lost Highway (1997)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Road to Nowhere

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

David Lynch teamed up with writer Barry Gifford (Wild at Heart) once again for this baffling, yet pulsating thriller. Bill Pullman and Patricia Arquette star as Fred and Renee Madison, a married couple that wakes up to find a videotape on their doorstep. On the tape is footage of them sleeping; the perpetrator apparently entered their home and filmed them just hours before. Fred is a jazz saxophonist who suspects his wife is having an affair, but when she winds up murdered he takes the rap for it. Inexplicably, he disappears from his cell, apparently reincarnated as a new person: a mechanic (played by Balthazar Getty). A Patricia Arquette lookalike with different hair comes into his life, but this time she's a dangerous gangster's moll. Robert Loggia is great as the gangster who beats up tailgaters. Robert Blake appears in a memorable role as a mysterious man at a party. The film has obvious parallels to Maya Deren's work (Meshes of the Afternoon) and to Lynch's later Mulholland Drive (2001), and it's interesting to note that on that subsequent film Lynch was able to smooth out his narrative a bit more. Yet for all its confusion, Lost Highway has some amazing, unforgettable moments. It's one of the downright spookiest films I've ever seen, and it gives me chills just to recall it. The late Richard Pryor made his final film appearance here.

DVD Details: Lost Highway was far better appreciated in Europe, and so only European DVDs have been available over the past ten years. (If I recall correctly, there was one American, Region 1, DVD, but it was panned-and-scanned, which ruins the entire effect.) Finally, Universal/Focus has released a definitive Region 1 version for 2008, letterboxed and anamorphic, with optional English subtitles. It has absolutely no extras, so die-hard fans may want to stick with the deluxe, two-disc British edition, but this one is highly recommended anyway.

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