This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
J’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
(Watched intercut with The Missing Pieces)
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with me is something traumatic and horrible, but somehow, just somehow, David Lynch exposed a certain beauty, a certain tenderness hidden at the bottom of the pits of despair he drives us into, almost agressivley so.
But as a prequel to Twin Peaks, I don't feel it really strays too far from the original series (save the all but abandoned comedic side of it), as an invigorating sense of mystery permeates the entirety of the film's foundations, and is probably what helps carry us through the film without it getting too heavy (and the thing that makes me feel i could rewatch it many times)
This mystery is only expanded on by the fact that the first 40 minutes or so of the film, are a solidified mystery in and of themselves. This part of the film may not include Laura at all, but it does tell us what we're in for: yes, by re-introducing characters from The Black Lodge, but also by reminding us we still have to play detective. And we never do find out what that blue rose stood for... did we?
Once Laura finally shows up and the "real film" begins, we're instantly reminded this is STILL Twin Peaks, when the theme song plays over the exact image of the sign that is used in the show's opening titles- it's also a great payoff, after waiting so long to see something you know (beyond Cooper and Gordon of course) to be rewarded with such simple, recognisable, iconography.
The unease that builds up in Twin Peaks, in this paragon of small town america, this gated promise, is reminiscent of the very early, especially grounded half of the show's first season, and even more so the suburban nightmare of Blue Velvet. In both works, the demons of private lives emerge and manifest in illegal goings-on in seedy underbellies which emerged out of the enforced peace of both locations (to really put it in surface level, simple terms). It's just that in Fire Walk With Me's world, the demons are actual demons.
Laura's visit to Harold that exposes her closeness to Bob shows smith trying to convince her that Bob isn't real. His understanding of her is a troubled girl who's mind is playing tricks on her, or who's mind is trying to cover up harf truths. Both assumptions would be reasonable to believe in, even though with our understanding of the rest of the show, we know he's wrong (there's absolutley no way Bob isn't real from what we've seen), but in the context of this piece he can be right- Bob doesn't actually have to exist. In your average Lynch piece, it doesn't really matter what's in or out of the frame or story. It matters how it pays off, emotionally.
What we get is a study on duality akin to something like The Strange Case on Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde in Leland's being possessed by Bob, a little bit of implied inherited suffering (Bob first came to Leland as a child, and now does the same unto Leland's daughter. Potentially insinuating Leland was as troubled as Laura), a little bit of deconstruction of the idealised small town american dream (and you would argue that the Palmer household, which outwardly appears to be a model of the equally idealised "nuclear family", is a microcosm of this.)
But you know, fuck all that.
I stopped trying to care about what Lynch films made me think and started to focus on how they made me feel. Here's what I feel:
•Sheryl Lee gives one of the most vulnerable and heartbreaking performances I've ever seen. She demonstrates such pure, heightened emotion, but is also so real, so sympathetic
•The same can be said for the script. She's portrayed with just as much tenderness and care on pen as she is on screen.
•all of the above can kind of be said for Ray Wise's Leland, except much less vulnerable and sympathetic and just auper fucking scary (though if it's vulnerability and sympathy you want look no further than his monologue near the end of Season 2 Episode 9 when Bob finally removes his grip on him)
• the scene in the club with Jaques made me feel such a sense of unease i was about 3 seconds away from hurling out litres of vomit
• the Bob rape scene is one of the most horrible, raw things in a movie
•the final murder scene is one of the most shocking, heart-wrenching things in a movie
• the ending is moving and surprisingly really... comforting... after all that? I'm still not 100% sure what it means but on surface level, the "angels" did "help her", which is why she suddenly starts looking more happy than we've ever seen her. Even though it's in this warped, surreal dreamland, she's finally found mercy and peace.
• bobby walked backwards for almost a minute and i thought that was really weird and zany
So, is this a masterpiece? So much as a believe there is any degree of objectivity to any form of art, there may be arguments to be made against that. The whole first 40 minutes or so are so against anything any level of film theory would tell you to do, but also why should I care? I loved that stuff! I love Twin Peaks!