The end of the year is almost upon us. But for me, these next three days are going to be brutal, work-wise that is. So to get me prepared for this, I figured I would wrap my head around a rather interesting movie. I have seen several films directed by David Lynch and have enjoyed everyone of them but this is the only one of his movies that I own. So I might as well get started with today’s movie, Lost Highway.
The plot: One night, saxophonist Fred Madison receives a strange message from the intercom on his door stating that Dick Laurent is dead, but when he checks outside, no one is near his house. The next night, during a break in his show, he calls his house but nobody answers the phone. When he gets home, he finds his wife, Renee, already asleep in the bed. The next day, Renee finds an unmarked envelope containing a video tape on the front door step and when they watch it, they find the tape contains footage of their house. Later, after they have sex, he tells her about a dream he had where he was searching the house for her but couldn’t find her, but then saw her in bed but though it looked like her, it wasn’t her. Later, Fred wakes from a nightmare and when he looks at Renee, he sees the face of an old man instead. The next day, another video tape arrives, only this time, it also shows the inside of the house as well as footage of them sleeping in bed. Renee calls the police and two detectives arrive and after asking them some questions, they look around the house for signs of a break in then assign some cops to keep watch on the house. Some time later, Fred and Renee attend a house party at a friend of Renee’s called Andy. As Fred is getting a drink at the bar, he is approached by a pale old man, whose face he thought he saw on Renee. The man approaches Fred and says they have met before at his house and says that he is there right now. Fred doesn’t believe him but when the man hands him his cell phone, Fred calls his house and is surprised when the man’s voice answers the phone. When Fred asks how he did that, the man laughs then asks for his phone back and walks away. Fred asks Andy who the strange man is and Andy tells him that he is a friend of Dick Laurent. When Fred says that Dick Laurent is dead, Andy seems surprised that Fred knows that and asks how Fred knew who Dick Laurent is but Fred replies that he doesn’t know him and doesn’t know if he really is dead. Fred tells Renee they are leaving and on the drive home, he questions her about how she met Andy. When they get home, Fred notices movement inside the house and has Renee wait in the car while he looks around but he doesn’t see anyone. The next day, Fred receives another video tape and he watches it by himself but is horrified when it shows him kneeling over Renee’s bloody body. Fred calls out for Renee when he is suddenly punched in the face by one of the detectives and he later finds himself tried and convicted of Renee’s murder and sentenced to the electric chair. While in prison, Fred begins suffering from headaches and has dreams about the mystery man, a cabin in the desert, and someone driving down the highway, as well as a vision of someone named Pete. During a routine cell check, the prison guards discover that Fred is gone and in his cell is a man named Pete Dayton. After the warden and police find out who he is, and since he hasn’t committed a crime, they release Pete into his parent’s custody, but have some officers keep watch on him. After hanging around his house for a few days, Pete decides to go out with his friends, who take him to a bowling alley, where where his girlfriend asks what happened to him. The next day, Pete goes back to work at his job at an auto mechanic’s garage when a man named Mr. Eddy arrives and tells Pete to take a ride with him. As they drive, Pete has Mr. Eddy pull over so he can fix the car’s problem, then Mr. Eddy continues to take Pete for a ride. As they are driving, Pete witnesses Mr. Eddy threaten and beat down a man for tailgating him. When Mr. Eddy drops Pete back at the garage, the detectives recognize Mr. Eddy as Laurent. The next day, Mr. Eddy drops off his Cadillac for Pete to work on and Pete is fascinated by the woman with Mr. Eddy. Later that night, the woman, Alice Wakefield, shows up at the garage and invites Pete to go to dinner with her but they wind up in a motel having sex. Pete begins meeting Alice repeatedly at motels but one night, Alice cancels their meeting as she suspects Mr. Eddy knows about them. Some time later, Pete’s parents confront him about what happened to him on the days he disappeared, saying he had come home and was with his girlfriend, Shelia, and another man. After Pete receives a visit from Mr. Eddy, saying he would kill anyone that messed around with Alice, Pete receives a call and meets with Alice, who comes up with a plan to rob her friend Andy and run away, and asks that Pete go with her. She then informs him that Mr. Eddy is an amateur porn director that goes by Dick Laurent, and he forced her to make some movies for him. When Pete gets home, he is confronted by Shelia, who accuses him of cheating on her. When she leaves, Pete receives a phone call from Mr. Eddy, who then hands the phone to the stranger, who speaks with Pete for a few minutes. Upset with everything that has happened, Pete decides to go through with Alice’s plan but when he gets there, he is shocked to see an movie of Alice having sex with someone being projected on the wall. Hearing someone coming, Pete hides and then strikes Andy on the head, knocking him unconscious. Alice comes downstairs but Andy suddenly comes too and lunges at Pete but Pete ends up flipping him, causing him to land on the edge of a nearby table which kills him. As Alice is robbing Andy, Pete notices a picture of both her and Renee together with Andy and Mr. Eddy and he asks Alice if she is both women, but she replies that she is only the blond. Pete’s nose suddenly begins to bleed and as he looks for a restroom, he begins having some strange visions concerning Alice. When Pete returns, Alice has finished robbing Andy and has Pete drive her in Andy’s car into the desert, where she knows a fence that lives in a cabin out there. When they arrive at the cabin, Pete asks Alice why she chose him. Alice asks Pete if he still wants her before they proceed to have sex out in the desert, after which Pete says that he still wants her and Alice replies that he will never have her before she walks naked into the cabin. When Pete stands up, he has become Fred Mansfield and can find no trace of Alice. When he looks inside the cabin, he finds the stranger waiting for him and Fred asks where Alice is. The man angrily responds that her name is Renee then begins filming Fred as he asks who Fred is. Fred drives off and arrives at a hotel called Lost Highway Hotel, where he finds Renee and Mr. Eddy having sex. After Renee leaves, Fred pistol whips Mr. Eddy, forces him into the trunk of his car, and drives him into the desert. When he opens the trunk, Mr. Eddy attacks him and is about to kill him when the stranger hands Fred a knife, which he uses to cut Mr. Eddy’s throat. As Andy is bleeding out, he asks why they are doing this and the stranger hands him a portable TV, which shows that Fred knew about their affair, before the stranger shoots Mr. Eddy. Meanwhile, the police are investigating Andy’s death when they notice the photograph, which now shows only Renee with Andy and Mr. Eddy. Fred drives to his old house, and buzzes the intercom to say that Dick Laurent is dead, then takes off, with the two detectives that just arrived giving chase. As he drives down the highway, with the police on his tail, he is suddenly surrounded by a bright light and he begins to convulse as his face distorts and appears to burn.
Lost Highway was met with mixed reviews from the critics, holding a 60% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Many criticized the hard to follow plot and Siskel and Ebert gave it two thumbs down, which David Lynch decided to use as a means to get people to see it. The movie would wind up being the last film that Richard Pryor, Jack Nance, and Robert Blake each performed in (outside of archived footage). The movie was a flop at the box office, earning over $3 million off a $15 million budget but achieved a sort of cult status when it came out on video.
Yup, nothing like starting the day trying to make sense of a movie that is almost impossible to make sense of. This is a rather dark, confusing, yet well directed movie. The acting was pretty good. Robert Blake was especially creepy as the stranger while Robert Loggia played his typical tought guy role with Mr. Eddy. I also like Patricia Arquette’s dual roles of Renee and Alice. The story was confusing as hell and nothing is ever really explained regarding how Pete and Fred keep switching places. There wasn’t much in the way of effects or action as this was mainly a dark drama. I will say that the soundtrack and score worked very well with this movie but considering that it was done by Trent Reznor, that really doesn’t come as a surprise. So if you want to scratch your head while trying to figure out a movie, then this is the movie for you.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5