"I like to remember things my own way. Not necessarily the way they happened"'

These are the words of Fred Madison (Bill Pullman), a man with an unfair share of problems. He lives in a deadly quiet neighbourhood, in a dark, oddly designed house. He works as a jazz musician in a nightclub and suspects his beautiful wife Renee (Patricia Arquette) of cheating on him. But, without knowing it, he's caught in an infinite, time-travelling, paradox conundrum. Confused? It gets worse.

Copy picture

Someone is leaving sinister videotapes on the doorstep. At first, it only shows the exterior of their house. But the subsequent tapes reveal a little more and then more...

At a party, hosted by one of his wife's sleazy "friends," a mystery man appears out of the crowd and tries to convince Fred that they've met before. Not quite aware of the true nature of the nightmare he's falling into, Fred dismisses this man as crazy and promptly leaves the party. At home, he disappears into the shadows of the labyrinthine hallway and isn't seen again until next morning.

The last videotape reveals Fred brutally murdering and dismembering Renee. Only he cannot remember doing it. Arrested and sent to prison, awaiting the electric chair, he begins to suffer agonising headaches. Then, one night, in solitary confinement, he goes through a psychogenic fugue and transforms into a completely different person.

Next morning the guards and warden are freaked to discover Pete Dayton (Balthazar Getty), a 24-year old mechanic, in Fred's cell. With no choice but to let him go, Pete goes back to his parents' house while closely tailed by the cops. Something happened to Pete a few days earlier and his parents are keeping their mouths shut. They can barely comprehend it themselves and it appears that Pete is involved in the same nightmare plot as Fred Madison.

A powerful gangster named Dick Laurent/Mr. Eddy (Robert Loggia) has a fondness for Pete and his ability to fix any car. But when he swings by the garage with his new floozy Alice Wakefield (Patricia Arquette again), Pete falls instantly in love with the woman, despite having "femme fatale" practically tattooed, in bold, on her forehead.

Pete and Alice begin a relationship of nothing but aggressive shagging. And slowly but surely a world of mystery, unlike anything you've ever seen, is so vividly realised that you are practically pulled right into the film itself and the atmosphere is so thick it will flood your living room.

David Lynch's direction is honed to perfection. The cinematography is flawless and expertly framed. Lynch is a master of space and sound and the world of Lost Highway is at once beautiful and downright evil. He uses sly editing tricks to keep you paying the utmost attention and even if you don't take your eyes off the screen for a split second it will still takes dozens of viewings to even begin to solve it.

The ingenuity of the film is that it can be interpreted in so many ways, but there is always one piece of the puzzle that Lynch has deliberately warped, or hammered out of shape, so that it doesn't quite fit and negates any theory you may have had. You could spend hours (and I have) painstakingly trying to make sense of it and you can come close to the answer but be so far from the truth.

It most certainly deserves the Gator MacReady Claw of Approval, though five stars just isn't enough. Be it a dream or reality, a trip down the Lost Highway is one you seriously need to take. Though you might not come back.

Reviewed on: 03 Mar 2006
Share this with others on...
Lost Highway packshot
A mysterious murder is only the beginning of the strangest story ever told
Amazon link

Director: David Lynch

Writer: David Lynch, Barry Gifford

Starring: Bill Pullman, Patricia Arquette, Balthazar Getty, Robert Blake, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Richard Pryor, Lucy Butler

Year: 1997

Runtime: 135 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: France/US

Festivals:


Search database: