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Blue Velvet

Widely regarded to be one of David Lynch's finest works, Blue Velvet is a slick and decidedly kinky thriller, forged from the twin metals of observational comedy and film noir. Like much of the writer-director's big screen concoctions, the film burrow into the subconscious and permeates the memory. It's difficult to shake some of the pic's surreal and disturbing imagery, particularly the masochistic encounters between Isabella Rossellini's chanteuse and Dennis Hopper's psychotic gangster, which depict sex as cold, mechanical and extremely brutal. The film's linchpin is hen-pecked everyman Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) who yearns for a little excitement in his life. Jeffrey is granted his wish when he discovers a severed human ear in a field, and joins forces with a police detective's daughter (Laura Dern), to locate the owner. The investigation leads Jeffrey to mysterious nightclub singer Dorothy Vallens (Rossellini) who is involved with violent and perverse hoodlum Frank (Hopper). Jeffrey becomes involved with the battered and bruised Dorothy, whose husband and son are being held hostage by her demented lover. Lynch is at his most provocative, shocking then titillating the audience, often within the same scene, thereby forcing us to consider whether we should really be laughing at the characters' distress. His depiction of the Rossellini-Hopper relationship (if such a word should apply to their frenzied couplings) is unflinching. In the film's searing centre-piece, Jeffrey watches helplessly from the closet as Frank first beats and abuses Dorothy (taking long deep breaths of oxygen through a mask between each venomous outburst) before raping her. When poor Dorothy discovers Jeffrey's hiding place, she pulls a knife and performs a sex act of her own on him. Blue Velvet is a work of twisted genius, which needs to be seen to be believed.