Posted by: ckckred | April 2, 2013

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

A highly underrated film by director David Lynch

A highly underrated film by director David Lynch

When Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me debuted in theaters in 1992, a year after the TV series was cancelled, it was met with some of the harshest reviews director David Lynch has ever received.  At a screening in the Cannes Film Festival, the movie was greeted with booing and jeering and was very badly received by fans and critics alike.  The film bombed in theaters, failing to make back its ten million dollar budget and destroyed any chance of the continuation of Twin Peaks.

But Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is not a bad movie.  In fact, it is quite superb.  It isn’t a flawless film to say nor is it David Lynch’s greatest work but is a stunning piece of art.  Perhaps the movie was not necessary, but I did not see it as a self-indulging exercise the majority of critics did.

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is a prequel to the TV series about the last seven days of Laura Palmer’s (Sheryl Lee) life.  Laura appears to live an every day life: she was the homecoming queen for her high school, she’s dating the lead football player in her school Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook), and she has a loyal best friend.  However, as Twin Peaks revealed, there was more in Laura’s life than what meets the eye.  Laura secretly does cocaine and works for drug sealers.  While her public boyfriend is Bobby, in reality she’s seeing motorcyclist James Hurley (James Marshall).  And she’s being tormented and raped by Bob (Frank Silva), an evil entity who exists in another world.

There are multiple differences between Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and Twin Peaks.  Other than a few flashbacks, Laura never appeared in the series and the audience only learned about her from other characters.  Twin Peaks also operated as an ensemble show; while Laura’s murder was the series’ main driving force, there were other subplots, like Andy’s relationship with Lucy.  Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, on the other hand, focuses only on Laura.  Many of the show’s characters don’t appear, though many make cameos or play smaller roles.  Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) plays a part in the movie in the murder of Teresa Banks, and the film also hints his mysterious fate that occurred in the series finale, but otherwise the movie is about Laura.

But the greatest difference between the series and the film is the tone.  Part of the reason of Twin Peak’s success, I believe, contributed to the lightheartedness of the situations.  While the series approached many dark elements common in the Lynchian universe, it also spoofed soap operas and had jokes about coffee and cherry pie.  As opposed to David Lynch’s other works, Twin Peaks was more approachable for audiences.  Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, on the other hand, ditches the cheeriness and is the bleakest, darkest portrait Lynch has ever painted, even more so than Blue Velvet.  Perhaps this is due to the fact the film is a reminder that Twin Peaks was about rape and murder, or that Lynch wanted to take another direction for the movie.  Audiences must have disliked Fire Walk With Me because of this, but looking at it by itself I feel the film stands on its own.  It’s an admirable film, filled with many of Lynch’s regular trademarks like his rock soundtrack, hypnotic pacing, and off-the-wall weirdness, and though it lags a bit in the beginning, it’s a wild ride.

Ray Wise, who plays Laura’s father Leland, deserves much praise for his performance.  Leland was always Twin Peaks’ most interesting character, and in the film Lynch expands him further, resulting in one of the director’s best characters.  Lee also is noteworthy as Laura, a role that must have been difficult to play.  Many of the other actors aren’t given as much to do besides those two actors, but the acting is still strong overall.

While not at David Lynch’s peak, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is a highly underrated project that’s as fascinating film the director has ever made.  Enormously misunderstood by audiences initially, this is a movie that deserves more acclaim than it receives.

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Responses

  1. Couldn’t agree more here, man. I absolutely loved this film and it tied in nicely with the series. The tone was certainly darker but all the better for. It’s a real shame that this was criticised so heavily. Very nice write-up 🙂

    • Thanks! It is a great film. I feel it’s far too criticized because of how different it is to the TV series. I think Lynch wanted to do something different and he succeeded.

  2. Excellent write up 🙂
    I working towards liking david Lynch – It’s a NY resolution! I’ll have to watch this one.

    • Thanks! It’s a movie that deserves much more acclaim than it receives.

  3. Great post. I was a massive fan of the TV series and remember being really disappointed when this film first came out. I’ve since seen it twice more and now think it’s brilliant – it’s right up there as one of Lynch’s best films (for me, the others would be Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway).

    • Thanks! I don’t think I would put it up with Mulholland Drive (which is in my personal top 5), Blue Velvet, or Eraserhead, but it’s a much better film than most people make it out to be. I still need to see Lost Highway, I just purchased the DVD and hope to see it soon.

      • Lost Highway is a head f*c*!

        And yup, Mulholland Drive is one of my all-time favourites but for some reason I don’t have the Blue Velvet love like everyone else.

      • Mulholland Drive is pretty great. I just saw it for the first time back in December and I can’t get it off my mind. I’m excited to see Lost Highway soon.

  4. Nice post. “Twin Peaks” remains my favorite TV series, and I have always felt “Fire Walk With Me” got way more criticism than it deserved. As a prequel/semi-sequel to the TV series, it serves its purpose wonderfully. As you mentioned, the change in tone and content surely drove away some fans, but those that had an interest in the plot of the Twin Peaks universe have so much to put together in the film.

    • Thanks! It does get more criticism than it deserves. It’s different in tone and mood, but I think it works well as a prequel. I heard that Lynch planned two sequels after the film but never got them running.

  5. Is this the one where someone walks into the bedroom and there’s a guy hiding behind the bed post?

    • Yep, in the scene where Laura walks into her room and sees Bob.

      • Yeah…..that was really creepy. Great film.

      • That scene is really frightening. The movie is much better than what most people give credit for. Thanks for commenting.

  6. Twin Peaks the series was awesome and this was very good, so underrated.

    • Agree, it is a very underrated film.

  7. Nice review. I have yet to see any Twin Peaks, but reading Lynch on Lynch made me want to see it.

    • Thanks! The entire series is available on Netflix Instant. It’s easy to get obsessed with and is more approachable than some of Lynch’s other work. The movie’s great but be prepared to expect something different. I’m still working on my Lynch on Lynch review.

  8. Liked the film but I was also irritated by it. The lead up to the murder is so long and the vague appearance by Cooper and the other FBI agent who disappears just seems like a stretch. I haven’t seen it in a few years, I should go back. Just came by from Fogs Link Bomb. I’m looking around and seeing what’s here.

    • The beginning was a little slowly paced, but I felt it evened out with Laura’s story. Thanks for stopping by, I’ll be sure to check out your blog.

  9. […] 8. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me […]

  10. […] Walk With Me is easily the most decisive film in Lynch’s filmography, a group of viewers (including myself) consider it a neglected and unfairly maligned picture, an ambitious if somewhat unnecessary […]

  11. […] The Village Voice review LA Times movie review Cinematic review […]


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