A young FBI agent disappears while investigating a murder miles from Twin Peaks that may be related to the future murder of Laura Palmer; the last week of the life of Laura Palmer is chronicled.
The Film “Twin Peaks – Fire Walk with Me” was a theatrical release that followed the hit TV series “Twin Peaks” directed by David Lynch. It is called a “psychological horror film”, but also serves a dual purpose. This being a much needed prologue and epilogue to the TV series itself. With Lynch’s work being a gamble, it was much more surprising that the theatres would take a chance on a film that basically has an entire middle story that many “may” have never seen. Add to that the fact that the TV show was canceled a year prior. I’ve always assumed that it was a gift to fans of the series and of David’s work but perhaps never intentionally assumed to be a money maker. As in most of Lynch’s work, “Fire Walk With Me” was deemed a bit incomprehensible receiving several negative reviews as a result. This didn’t surprise me, with hours upon hours of TV show time almost needed in some respects to make a intellectual relationship. I was one of the few who followed the series and dropped down a few bucks to see it. Hopefully my review will fill in some of the gaps and give it the more fan-based review it deserves. The movie saw the return of most of the cast with the exception of Lara Flynn Boyle who played character Donna Hayward in the series.
While “Twin Peaks – Fire Walk with Me” is not entirely accessible from a “new” viewer perspective it does serve that oh-so-important-purpose of filling in the details of the Twin Peaks series. In some scenes it can stand alone as its own film but I felt that fans of the series would really make the connections leaving new viewers scratching their heads (characters such as the “log lady” were incomprehensible to new viewers). One could easily see the film and find no need to watch the series which is based around the mystery of Laura Palmer’s (Sheryl Lee) death. However, the series really did establish the collective of characters of which the film did not.
Note: To properly explain the premise and sometimes confusing outcome, it requires a look into “spoilers” from the film.
The story begins when a young girl Teresa Banks is found dead in the town of Deer Meadow. The FBI are called in to investigate led by Agent Chester Desmond (Chris Isaak) and his partner Sam Stanley (Kiefer Sutherland). They begin to follow up on their leads which inadvertently land them missing because of it. This sets the stage for Laura Palmers ordeal.
Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) is sent in as backup and predicts the future murder of Laura Palmer.
From here we are taken 1 year later to the town of Twin Peaks. Laura Palmer is on her way to school. The film centers on Laura, her lifestyle, and the dark secrets of her life which are delivered in pieces. Her best friend Donna Hayward (Moira Kelly) tries to comfort her by getting involved but of which only leads to Laura pushing her farther away (she doesn’t want her friend to get corrupted as she is)
Per Lynch’s usual style, we can expect dialog and scenes that feel a bit uncomfortable to sit thru. Not so much in the content, but the pauses and the quirky nature of characters interaction. Lynch enjoys taking the direction of interrupted flows and forced moments that instead of being flaws are delivered in stylistic bits. We also can count on him to introduce characters that are never seen again. Because of that we are left holding the bag wondering what, how and why…or why did Lynch just show me that? We get a few of those weird backwards talking midgets, the red room and the dreams intended to provide clues that we never entirely understand. A better way to dissect this film is to take the main plot points and connect them with the emotional states of the characters. Out of this, we get the objective and the swirling of deeper feelings that stem from this objective. It worthy to note, that clues are left in some of the dialog.
For instance we learn early on that Laura is in love with James Hurley (James Marshall) her “ideal” boyfriend but is actual girlfriend to drug runner Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook). This light and dark conflict is further darkened by her sexual abusing father Leland (Ray Wise) who at first Laura believes to be dark figure she calls BOB. Laura has a cocaine problem. One that leads her to dark places, prostitution, and a night life that is a ying and yang to her daily school life. Laura in fact is quite messed up which is fueled by her drug abuse and then the heaviness of being raped by her father at night (quite frequently). Laura also tends to drift between reality and fantasy haunted by her ordeals.
Laura ‘s story is one that begins on a light note only to reveal that she is deep within the darkness that Twin Peaks provides. Leland, her father is no saint himself, though realizes what Laura is involved with when she turns up as one of the players in his secret life of infidelities. Unknown to her, he begins to follow the tracks of her lifestyle which is too much for him to handle (and the guilt of his past deeds). It ultimately leads to her murder by her own father. (this mystery is the basis for the entire series…Who murdered Laura Palmer?) BOB the assumed killer is only a figment she drew up to hide the truth in her imagination.
Actress Sheryl Lee who was only really known as a corpse in the Twin Peaks series provides a performance that I always felt was underrated. Her ability to transform from the sweet school girl into a dynamically wild drugged-up nightly vixen is quite incredible .
The movie doesn’t deliver all its pieces in a comfortable fashion. We are given ideas and thoughts that can be revisited later to re-objectify the intentions. Since watching the film several times, I’ve found numerous ways of which its details have been translated. In short, David Lynch invites you to build your own conclusions.
While bizarre and dynamic “Twin Peaks – Fire Walk with me” is a story about a young girl who “became” bad thru bad situations. It’s about a killer, the town, it’s residents and the dark culture “within” the town that comes out at night. There is an underlying supernatural tone that only occurs sometimes more like the town itself is trying to tell us something. Whether you love it or hate it, it’s true Lynchian material that will take you on a dark and heavy ride.
Twin Peaks – Fire Walk with Me” (1992)