David Lynch has referred to his masterful 1986 mystery-thriller Blue Velvet as being about "the sickness beneath the surface of what appears to be a very beautiful world." Luckily, it's not quite that simple. Blue Velvet begins with a gruesome discovery - a severed ear lying in a field - and by the end goes deep into the heart of darkness, the human disease within us that destroys the soul. But in between there's pleanty of room for Lynch to flip accepted values and the American dream on their collective detached and ant-ridden ear. Playing amateur detective in small-town Lumberton are college-boy Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) and high school senior Sandy Williams (Laura Dern), who bring a Hardy Boys - Nancy Drew naivete to the creepiness and make everything feel that much more disjointed. Jeffrey finds the ear and turns it over to Sandy's father, a police detective. But Jeffrey's fascination with the mystery overwhelms his sense of law-abiding complacency, and he tries to solve the mystery himself, with Sandy as his confidante. Soon he's involved in the twisted lives of Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini), a mysterious nightclub singer holding a very dark secret, and Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper), a sadistic criminal who's sexually obsessed with her. Here, as Jeffrey and Sandy drive to a stop in front of a church, he tells her what he's discovered so far, and she trieds to relate some sense of comfort and warmth in what is fast becoming for the two of them a very horrific and cold reality.
Sandy Williams: Well? (laughs nervously) Aren't you going to tell me about it?
Jeffrey Beaumont: OK. It's a strange world, Sandy. Dorothy Vallens is married to a man named Don. They have a son. I think the son and the husband have been kidnapped by a man named Frank. Frank has done this to force Dorothy to do things for him. I think she wants to die. I think Frank cut the ear I found off her husband as a warning for her to stay alive. Frank is a, is a very dangerous man.
Sandy: My God. Should you tell my father?
Jeffrey: No, I can't do that. I can't prove any of this. I found out my information illegally. You could get into a lot of trouble.
Sandy: You saw a lot in one night. (He nods). It is a strange world.
Jeffrey: (near tears) Why are there people like Frank? Why is there so much trouble in this world?
Sandy: I don't know. I had a dream. In fact, it was the night I met you. In the dream, there was our world, and the world was dark because there weren't any robins. And the robins represented love. And for the longest time there was just this darkness, and all of a sudden thousands of robins were set free and they flew down and brought this blinding light of love. And it felt seemed like that love would be the only thing that would make any difference. And it did. So I guess it means there is trouble till the robins come.
Jeffrey: You're a neat girl.
Sandy: So are you. (laughs) I mean, you're a neat guy. I, I guess we'd better go.
Jeffrey: Yeah, I guess so. (They drive away from the church).
Blue Velvet is available from MGM Home Entertainment; DVD, $19.95; VHS, $14.95.
Copyright 2002 Premiere Magazine
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