Sailor and Lula are in love. Yes, those are their real names. Nobody even for a second thinks they are names that are anything out of the ordinary. Why? Because this is a David Lynch film, and in a David Lynch film, everything is accepted or acceptable, no matter how unlikely. That is the magical spell the great director with even greater hair has on us.
But there is trouble for the young couple. Lula’s mom is against their relationship. She’s so against it that hires hitman after hitman to dispose of Sailor. Even at the beginning of the film, we witness a man attacking Sailor with a knife. Sailor smashes his head in, blood and brain everywhere, accompanied by the sound of splatter and Lula’s screams. Lula is played by Laura Dern, a frequent muse of Lynch’s. The woman has incredible lung capacity. I think she can out scream most of the 80s and 90s scream queens.
You would think that Sailor’s act of barbaric, animalistic violence would push Lula away from him, but no. He only gets 2 years in jail. The world the two young lovers inhabit is a world of relentlessly consistent violence. Everywhere and at every moment, there are horrible things going on. No matter what radio station you turn on, and the lovers flip every single one, you only hear about murder, torture and rape. In a world so violent, their only solace is metal music.
That isn’t completely true tho. Sailor, played by Nicholas Cage can also sing Elvis. In a matter of fact, the whole role of Sailor feels like a very deliberate Elvis impression, except for one fact. That singular fact is Sailor snake skin jacket. It is his “Symbol of individuality and belief in his personal freedom”. In one scene in the first act of the movie, Sailor impromptu starts singing an Elvis tune in a metal club. The hard rocking metal head chicks all turn into screaming Elvis fans from the 50s. It is a dream like scene.
The movie as a whole as this dream like quality. Like a dream it is a jigsaw puzzle of various elements that doesn’t really seem like the fit together, but once the puzzle is solved everything is in this right place. The movie itself travels back and forth between time and place. You never know what era they are in. Sometimes the cars, music and fashion make you think you are in the end of 50s or beginning of 60s. But, then the metal sounds, phones and references to world event shift you into the 80s or 90s. But everything feels pace and logical, just like your average dream does. You accept your dreams no matter how wild they are. That’s what makes David Lynch such a unique filmmaker. He can create the authentic feeling of dreaming on screen.
The cinematic language and its never-ending evolution have created some standards and expectations. When we watch films, we expected people to seem and look a certain way. In a sense, we are still as the ancient Greeks were. We want to be exposed to youth, bodily prowess, both in terms of capacities and aesthetics. Lynch challenges that on a consistent basis throughout the film. There are various images that break the expected experience. For example, he gives Willem Defoe these disgusting looking teeth. There are all kinds of unsymmetrical and old people in the film. At one part of the movie a bunch of overweight women in the 40s and 50 start dancing around a trailer park naked.
You have noticed that I barely talked about the plot of the movie. Is the plot of your dreams what you remember, or are the images and feelings experienced while dreaming what sticks with you afterwards?
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