TBT Review: ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me’ is Weird Even For David Lynch
‘Twin Peaks’ has triumphantly returned to TV with Showtime and the response has been encouraging!
The only problem is that I do not have a subscription for Showtime. I plan to get one, but not until the season concludes so I can watch it all in one sitting. About a year ago I watched the original “Twin Peaks” on Netflix and quickly understood why so many people loved it. So before I watch “The Return” I thought I’d get myself hyped while watching “Fire Walk With Me.”
Cinematics (Cinematography, Acting, Plot, etc.) – 3
For those not aware, “Twin Peaks” was a TV show from the 90s created by David Lynch and Mark Frost. It was pretty popular for a while. However, after the second season the network wanted a definitive answer to the central mystery of “Who Killed Laura Palmer?” The thing is though there was never meant to be an answer. It was the reason our main character FBI agent Dale Cooper was in the town, but the plan was always just to be about the mysteries and stories of all the weird characters of the town of Twin Peaks. Still they insisted and halfway through the 2nd season we got our answer. While many feel the series went downhill it continued. In my opinion it was still enjoyable, albeit a little directionless. Lynch returned to deliver an awesome season finale with a killer cliffhanger. Sadly it wasn’t enough and the series was cancelled. However, Lynch was unable to stop thinking of the world and characters and decided to make a trilogy of movies to continue. The first would be a prequel of Laura Palmer’s last week of living. The other two films would finally follow-up on the cliffhanger. Sadly due to this film’s financial failures it never came to pass.
The film opens with two FBI agents investigating a crime that to fans of the show may seem slightly familiar to Laura Palmer’s death. In fact, the town it takes place in is somewhat close to Twin Peaks and can even be seen as the anti-version. In the show, Cooper instantly becomes friends with the Twin Peaks police and engrained with the townsfolk. Here, this new town is instantly hostile. Then, the agents mysteriously disappear. Agent Cooper is assigned to the case, but turns up nothing. Later, he seems to get psychic flashes about Laura Palmer. Then, we transition to Twin Peaks for the rest of the movie. We see some things that were only hinted or spoken about on the TV series, which is pretty cool. Finally, it all comes to a head with seeing the infamous night she is killed. I’ll say that after all this time wondering about that night they pull no punches and it’s incredibly hard to watch.
The directing and acting is typical David Lynch. The actors all walk a fine line of creating a bizarre world, but never too strange that we can’t recognize them as real people. The main actor of note is Sheryl Lee as Laura Palmer who was only originally hired to play her dead body. Maybe a few flashbacks in videos or something later on. Then, a funny thing happened… they discovered that she could really act. They even invented a new character in her cousin just to give her more to do on the show. That’s pretty daunting to go from basically a glorified body double to the lead actress in a movie. Still she rises to the challenge and really shows talent while holding most of the film on her shoulders. I’m sure a large part of that falls onto Lynch himself as a director. With the higher budget we are able to see all of these locations from the show in glorious widescreen. We even see some new creepier images that we probably never could have gotten on the show.
Entertainment Value – 3.5
After the first 3rd of the film, when we see that famous sign for the town of Twin Peaks and those iconic beats of the theme start playing it was so soothing. Like an old friend you haven’t seen in a long time coming home for a visit. That was the most memorable part in the film and I think I know why. Despite this being a “Twin Peaks” film this feels distinctly different from the series. There is no doubt that this is a part of the same world. However, it feels more like “Lost Highway” or “Mulholland Drive” era David Lynch. This is weird and dark even by David Lynch standards. We even have David Bowie show up for a few seconds of unexplained weirdness. Supposedly there was A LOT filmed, but cut out. So much so that on one of the DVD’s they constructed a separate film made out of the deleted scenes.
The more that I think of it the thing that bothered me most about the film was the lack of most of the fun quirkiness of the show. Now don’t get me wrong the show had dark elements, but they were offset by the fun weird stuff like Sheriff Harry S Truman or getting to see Fox Mulder in drag. This film is Laura Palmer’s story and I suppose that only makes sense. You strip away all the supernatural mythology of the franchise and this is a story about a high school girl being sexually abused over and over and her coping method is doing worse and worse things (drugs/prostitution/cheating/lying) before she finally gets brutally murdered. It’s not exactly a fun viewing experience. We’re just watching Laura Palmer do bad things over and over until she eventually dies.
Re-Watchability – 2
For the film taken on its own merits, I can’t really see myself re-watching it regularly. I could see myself re-watching some of the parts that I liked. More than likely, if I do end up re-watching it’s going to refresh my mind on plot points for the “Twin Peaks” franchise.
- Entertainment Value
If you have NO connection to the series this may seem like seem like a bunch of weird nonsense. If you're a David Lynch or 'Twin Peaks' fan you'll definitely get some enjoyment out of it. How much exactly is hard to say. For me while the ride itself was fun it is missing some of the essential elements that had me (and I suspect many others) fall in love with the franchise. Still I have it on good authority that certain things introduced in this film are important for new series and that makes it required viewing in my book. I give it 2.5 stars out of 5.
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