Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
It is not uncommon for a hit TV show to spawn a film. Often the film covers a time after the series ends. Sometimes the time honored prequel is invoked covering the events leading up to the TV show. The latter is the case for the cryptic TV cult classic Twin Peaks. Where the series concentrated on the murder of high school student Laura Palmer by FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan). Here, in Fire Walk with Me the focus is on the last days of Laura, now played by Sheryl Lee. The story opens with two FBI agents Chester Desmond (Chris Issak) and Sam Stanley (Kiefer Sutherland) investigating the murder of a young girl Teresa Banks (Pamela Gidley). During the investigation Agent Desmond disappears. Right from the start we know this is not the usual FBI drama. First of all the agents received their assignment from a young woman in a red dress dancing in a rather unusual manner. Each article of clothing and movement covey the details of the assignment. The time frame skips to a year latter where agent Cooper is having dreams about another murder in the town of Twin Peaks. We then skip to the last seven days of Laura Palmers life. Laura is on the surface a typical high school student. Just below the surface there are many secrets. She is very sexually active. She is into drugs and the two combine to propel Laura into a shadow life. When her best friend Donna (Moira Kelly) finds out and starts to join in things get even stranger. Laura has dreams that coincide with the dreams of Agent Cooper and seem to enter what passes for reality in Twin Peaks. A strange man is stalking Laura. She begins to suspect her father of being involved. We also see that her father is also living a double life. He was taking advantage of the services of Teresa Banks and asked her to set up a party with two additional girls. He backs out when he glances through the window to see his own daughter waiting. Strange characters populate the town, even by my standards of being a life long resident of New York City. These people drift in and out of the story making bizarre cryptic statements and then moving back into the shadows. This is not a story that can be casually viewed. You have to pay attention to each frame and will find yourself very familiar with the reverse button. Where plot lines where alluded to in the TV series here the audience is hit over the head with them in all too graphic detail.
The cast here is excellent but there are many times when their considerable talents are not used to the best apparent manner. For example Ms Lee is great as Laura but in too many moments she pushes her performance over the top. The facial expressions too exaggerated, held too long, to the point where drama is sacrificed to comedy. I just could not find myself able to believe that Ms Lee was the bad girl that she portrays. Even such a mundane act as lighting a cigarette comes across as forced not natural. In such a strange world as created here the audience would have benefited greatly if the characters themselves were more realistic rather than also being so strange in their actions and reactions. MacLachlan is no stranger to unusual roles. After all he was in Showgirls and the Lynch version of Dune. His performance although among the strangest was more firmly rooted in a believable human being. Kelly, veteran of numerous intense roles drifts along in her characterization of the best friend Donna. Kelly does have moments here where she uses that to her advantage portraying the best friend of a popular girl relegated to living in her shadow. She also had to cope with being the only cast member here not reprising their role from the TV series. Kelly replaces Lara Flynn Boyle who apparently balked at the nudity required in the role.
David Lynch is not the easiest director to follow. He hallmark is to sacrifice all to the style of the film. Plot is developed not only by the acting of the characters and dialogue but by the smallest details of each frame. It seems that many reviews overlook the difficultly in following a Lynch film because of the overwhelming style. If you are not ready for a major commitment in viewing pass his works by. They are intense and require a lot of concentration to even begin to fathom. Lynchs directorial bag of tricks is full and completely used here. Flashbacks are upon you at a moments notice. Dreams and reality mingle almost seamlessly. The soundtrack and dialogue reverse and then resume forward direction. Say what you will about David Lynch, he is a master of his craft. Each frame is full of detail and complete in its cumulative influence for the story line. His eye for such aspects extends down to the smallest piece of minutia. This can often overwhelm the audience. With so many fluff films out there some may find intense movie making refreshing.
The disc is generally very well done as far as the transfer goes. The audio is presented in both DTS and Dolby 5.1. The DTS version cuts back a bit on the use of the sub woofer, which was a bit of relief. The 5.1 version rode the sub woofer so much it frequently overpowered the rest of the sound. The video is non-anamorphic 1.85:1. The source was obviously a good one since the DVD exhibited no noticeable defects. The menus are not up to a major release by a mainstream studio. The extras are far too light. There is a half hour documentary that provides little insight into the film. There is also a trailer. As noted many times before the infamous deleted footage is obvious by its omission. While this film is not for everyone it is a must have for fans of David Lynch and those who followed the TV series.