Lost Highway asks us a question, what makes us who we are? Two people can look exactly the same and be polar opposites, while others can look different but share fundamentally the same soul. Where does fate come into that? What aspect of a person do we love or are we drawn to? And how easy are we to manipulate based on what draws us in?
A dreamlike and cynical exploration of these questions, Lynch really doesn't try to answer any of them. Choosing instead, in his typical fashion, to take us on a journey to explore them. Landing more in the realms of philosophy than coherent storytelling, by the end you are likely to have more questions than when you started.
And that's his intention of course.
Taking almost the form of an anthology film with two halves, the first introduces us to married couple Fred and Renee Madison (Bill Pullman and Patricia Arquette). They live in a home of stylish sharp angles and few soft areas. Even the softness of their bed is given an angular sheen by satin sheets. Renee's blunt fringe conflicts with her shy, quiet nature. While Fred performs as a Jazz musician, all harsh notes and conflicting melodies. In between Fred having violent nightmares, they begin to find video tapes outside their home, initially only showing the outside and then creeping further into their space. This escalates to a violent conclusion where Fred is in prison, before he mysteriously becomes Pete Dayton (Balthazar Getty).
Pete lives a far less stylish life, a poor mechanic with an unassuming girlfriend, he meets a woman, Alice, who looks exactly like Renee, and is drawn by her into more dangerous and confusing situations.
As always Lynch's stories aren't for everyone. They are vague, aimless, overlong and make little narrative sense. There is a sense that he doesn't really want to make any decisions about where we should land, or what he really wants to say. More intending to portray a feeling or a series of questions. That's his prerogative of course, but it does mean that some viewers will likely find it… a bit much.
There is an inherent fascination to it though, that pulls you through the vague and aimless narrative. Arquette and Pullman both give some of the career best performances. Arquette in particular in her dual roles as Renee and Alice.
The disc contains a number of new bonus features from Criterion, some of which attempt to expand on and explain some of the intentions of the film. They are absolutely worth checking out as usual.
DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
- New 4K digital restoration, supervised and approved by director David Lynch, with new 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
- Alternate uncompressed stereo soundtrack
- For the 4K UHD edition: One 4K UHD disc of the film presented in Dolby Vision HDR and one Blu-ray with the film and special features
- Pretty as a Picture: The Art of David Lynch, a feature-length 1997 documentary by Toby Keeler featuring Lynch and his collaborators Angelo Badalamenti, Peter Deming, Barry Gifford, Mary Sweeney, and others, along with on-set footage from Lost Highway
- Reading by Lynch and critic Kristine McKenna of excerpts from their 2018 book, Room to Dream
- Archival interviews with Lynch and actors Patricia Arquette, Bill Pullman, and Robert Loggia
- English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- PLUS: Excerpts from an interview with Lynch from filmmaker and writer Chris Rodley's book Lynch on LynchNew cover by Fred Davis
Lost Highway is released onto the Criterion Collection on October 31st.