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USA 1992
Directed by
David Lynch
134 minutes
Rated R

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

Having established his reputation as a cult director par excellence with Blue Velvet  (1986) and his less successful (commercially speaking at least), Wild At Heart (1990). Lynch's much-anticipated 1990 TV series Twin Peaks out-distanced his willing audience with its dead-pan eccentricities and refusal to play to conventional narrative norms. The series lasted two seasons meandering around the question supposedly driving its diegesis, “Who killed Laura Palmer?” before being pulled with a cliff-hanger ending. Frustrated fans assailed the director with requests to continue the project and the result is Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me which is both a prequel and a sequel to the TV series and which, unlike it, makes Palmer very much the central character. Despite this and benefiting from the single session delivery, the film is the director’s most provocatively disjunctive offering yet.

Somewhat surprisingly, given the high art context, the film was snubbed on its first screening at Cannes, slated as being wilfully obscurantist and violent. It is certainly both obscure and violent and for me, particularly because of the former aspect, the least engaging of Lynch’s films, but unlike so many examples of French art cinema (the French studio Canal + were amongst the film’s backers) it is no mere exercise in style. It is rather a far less linear and more personal extension of the kind of material that Lynch had explored in his previous two films already mentioned, a gleefully warped journey to the dark side of the individual and social psyche. .

Sheryl Lee, who played both Palmer and Madeleine 'Maddy' Ferguson in the TV version, gives a powerful performance as the self-destructive Laura Palmer, one that she has never equalled since, whilst Ray Wise is suitably creepy as her sexually-abusive father but typically Lynch gets first-class performances from all his cast in what one could only describe as a confronting project.




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