Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me ★★★★½

i started writing one thing while waiting for this to buffer during the first act but that was before i realized this is the scariest fucking film i’ve ever seen. i knew nothing really going into Twin Peaks, and i continued to avoid any details about FWWM. one of the things i did catch was that many people, if not everyone, called FWWM a horror film. Twin Peaks has spooked me good a couple of times, so i figured it… might be… something along those lines.

oh god.
oh god.
I’m gone. Long gone.
it was so more terrible than i thought.

it is also one of the saddest, most physically gut-wrenching things i’ve ever watched. to sustain something as emotionally engaging & surprising when the end — the terrible, terrible end — is already known takes real deftness. i figured Lynch & Frost would pull off FWWM after loving each Twin Peaks episode they were directly involved in, but good god. i wasn’t prepared for their mangled & maimed beast.

Lynch translates this story so well from television to film. it’s especially impressive considering the horseshit network drama that is responsible for the show’s season 2 slump. my first viewing of the slump isn’t so much that i think it’s entirely directionless or pointless: i think the worst part about the season 2 slog is how tonally inconsistent it is. the first episode lingers in the town’s devastation, marinates in the sense of total loss following Laura’s death. the pilot is among some of the best television i’ve ever seen because it allows itself to be so horribly human: the town bleeds, wheezes, whimpers with Laura gone.

when Lana & Little Nicky & Nadine the Wrestler (tbh i do have a soft spot for her) start taking up screen time during season 2, it feels wrong. it’s jarring how tone-deaf their shenanigans seem compared to Lynch’s impeccable balance between humor & horror.

i think i’m more peeved with the slump having seen FWWM because now the tone change and inconsequential storylines feel wrong, dirty, self-serving. because FWWM doesn’t let you forget that Laura Palmer’s life was one marked by abuse. because Laura Palmer asked everyone for help and no one gave it to her. because Laura Palmer needed love and all she ever received were unwanted touches and kisses and violence. because everyone in Twin Peaks thought they loved Laura Palmer.
but they didn’t.
or they didn’t love her enough.
or they loved her wrongly.
or maybe no love, bad or good, can ever be enough.

Sheryl Lee is something else. she gives Laura Palmer so much life, so much truth, so much ugliness. her hurt is visceral. for two seasons, my heart belonged wholly to Audrey Horne, but i’ll be damned if my heart doesn’t have room for Laura, too.

i spent a good portion of this film’s duration crying. more than once i cried because of distance: only so many characters actually interact with Laura, and even fewer are shot up-close. maaaaybe this is because of bureaucratic technical bullshit with filming the actors after the show, who knows.
but i’d like to think the invasive shots of Laura vs. the tight shots of Leland vs. the hovering shots of Norma, Shelly, etc. mean something.
something like: how Laura was already gone away from so many people.
something like: how not even the people closest to Laura, physically or emotionally, could reach her.
something like: we lived in Laura’s space for two hours. we were lucky enough to love her. we were misfortunate enough to watch her go, even before the film began. we were damned to be a part of this. but we’re all a part of it, together.

and i think that togetherness is what saves this film for me. i can totally see why someone would hate it whether or not they've seen the show, but especially if they haven't seen the first two seasons. i can't imagine that FWWM stands alone well on its own. it really feels more like 2 hours of the television show Lynch always wanted to create, but that means its rooted in everything that came before it, including the shit that's in the slump.

but i think that because FWWM is part of something bigger than it itself, it demands to be talked about. it demands to be mourned together. if it frustrated a viewer, that confusion or that disgust must be vented. if it hurt a viewer, that grief and sense of helplessness must be articulated. the fictional community of Twin Peaks doesn't just mirror the communities we exist in, that we seek out, that we love: it tells us the story of us. it's an ugly story. it is not always fun. it shouldn't even be fun most of the time.
but the life & death & aftermath of Laura Palmer is one that must not only be told. we must also listen.

i’ve still got season 3 to watch (thank god + oh god) but i imagine i’ll have to come back to this at some point. i don’t think i enjoyed it but i did love it. rest in peace, harry dean stanton.

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