Movie Review

Blue Velvet

It's a strange world.
Blue Velvet Movie Poster

US Release Date: 09-19-1986

Directed by: David Lynch


  • Kyle MacLachlan
  • Jeffrey Beaumont
  • Isabella Rossellini
  • Dorothy Vallens
  • Dennis Hopper
  • Frank Booth
  • Laura Dern
  • Sandy Williams
  • Hope Lange
  • Mrs. Williams
  • Dean Stockwell
  • Ben
  • George Dickerson
  • Detective Williams
  • Priscilla Pointer
  • Mrs. Beaumont
  • Frances Bay
  • Aunt Barbara
  • Jack Harvey
  • Mr. Beaumont
  • Ken Stovitz
  • Mike
  • Brad Dourif
  • Raymond
  • Jack Nance
  • Paul
  • J. Michael Hunter
  • Hunter
  • Dick Green
  • Don Vallens
  • Fred Pickler
  • "Yellow Man"/Det. T.R Gordon
Reviewed on: January 20th, 2013
Kyle MacLachlan and Isabella Rossellini in Blue Velvet.

Kyle MacLachlan and Isabella Rossellini in Blue Velvet.

I have a love/hate relationship with David Lynch. I admire him as a filmmaking genius but I dislike most of his movies. I know that sounds like a contradiction and perhaps it is; be that as it may it reflects my true feelings towards the maverick writer/director. Blue Velvet is my favorite of all his movies. I love the storyline with its neo-noir style and while it does feature some of the director's trademark surrealistic flourishes, it adheres to logic in a manner lacking from his other most critically acclaimed movies like Eraserhead and Mulholland Drive. Both of which I loathe.

Blue Velvet was panned by critics and audiences alike upon its initial release in the late summer of 1986. It has since gone on to cult status as one of the most influential movies of the 1980s. It helped propel the careers of Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini and Laura Dern into the spotlight and reinvigorated Dennis Hopper's career after a self-imposed hiatus during which the legendary actor had undergone treatment in rehab.

One of David Lynch's greatest talents is his ability to paint cinematic pictures with a camera. He sets up shots in a uniquely interesting manner. He has a penchant for old fashioned movie making style. He uses close-ups to great dramatic effect and lets the camera linger on its subjects. To this traditional style he adds sinister, twisted characters and situations. With Blue Velvet, at least, he doesn't allow his hallucinations to take over the story as he has a tendency to do.

The movie is set in a traditional suburban neighborhood in small town America. The storyline quickly detours towards the demented. Kyle MacLachlan plays Jeffrey Beaumont, your average high school senior who makes a gruesome discovery in a neighbor's lawn, in the form of a detached human ear swarming with ants, that leads him on an unexpected and incredibly dangerous journey into manhood.

The cast is terrific. MacLachlan exudes boy-next-door charm in the lead but he handles the darker scenes believably too. Jeffrey is a memorable hero. Laura Dern plays Sandy, Jeffrey's supportive high school sweetheart. My favorite line of hers is when she says to Jeffrey, “I can't figure out if you're a detective or a pervert.”

Her virginal innocence contrasts sharply with Isabella Rossellini's world weariness as Dorothy Vallens. Vallens is a walking anachronism. She is a nightclub chanteuse straight out of 1940's film noir. The sight of her in that curly black wig, her face done up in heavy blue eyeshadow and blood red lipstick, draped in that blue velvet robe, is a classic image in film history (see photo).

Dennis Hopper as the sadistic deviant Frank Booth leaves the biggest impression. He is a character that is so far over-the-top he would seem like a cartoon villain in the hands of a less talented actor. Hopper makes his insanity real. The scene where Jeffrey witnesses Frank brutally raping Dorothy, while hiding in her closet, is truly frightening. Neither Lynch nor Hopper pull any punches.

David Lynch said his inspiration for the movie was its namesake song, particularly the 1955 recording by The Clovers. The song plays a symbolic part in the story and you will find yourself singing along by the third or fourth time you hear it. The idea germinated in Lynch's mind for more than a decade before he finally turned it into a screenplay. Nearly three decades after it came out, Blue Velvet remains a seriously disturbing watch. Like all truly great movies it is one where you never seem to stop noticing new details with each subsequent viewing.

Related Review