It's personal all right, also solipsistic, intransigent, and occasionally ridiculous. David Lynch's 1986 fever-dream fantasy, of a young college student (Kyle MacLachlan) returned to his small-town roots and all manner of strangeness, is replete with sexual fear and loathing, parodistic inversions (of Capra, Lubitsch), and cannibalistic recyclings from Lynch's own Eraserhead and Dune. The bizarrely evolving story—MacLachlan becomes involved with two women, one light and innocent (Laura Dern, vaguely lost), the other dark and sadomasochistic (Isabella Rossellini), as well as with a murderous psychopath (a brilliantly demented Dennis Hopper)—seems more obsessive than expressive at times, and the commingling of sex, violence, and death treads obliquely on familiar Ken Russell territory: it's Crimes of Passion with the polarities reversed. Still, the film casts its spell in countless odd ways, in the archetype-leaning imagery, eccentric tableau styling, and moth-in-candle-flame attraction to the subconscious twilight.
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