joshhh’s review published on Letterboxd:
If I wasn’t already in love with David Lynch, Twin Peaks officiated that belief. It’s a unique show, and there’s nothing quite like it in any other form of media (film, television, anything). The problem with the final season however is Lynch’s involvement. Once the killer was revealed (a moment which Lynch was forced to reveal earlier than expected), the show loses momentum, followed by episodes that include dull and absurdly comedic subplots that seem to go nowhere. However, with this Lynch is given the full creative control he desired from the show. And right from the opening shot, you know you’re watching an entirely different entity, separate from the original show or anything that comes before it. We see a blue screen, and as the camera pans out you find a TV set, which is subsequently smashed. Lynch immediately tells you something. This is not TV. This is a movie. We’re departing from the somewhat goofy nature of the show, and there are no limitations. This is no longer Twin Peaks. This is FIRE WALK WITH ME.
Don’t read further if you haven’t watched the show.
I believe Fire Walk With Me only works if you’ve seen the show, because elements are revealed that add new layers to the story of the original series. The story of this movie and the new details add so much more disturbing elements to the reveal of the show, the biggest of which being the sexual relationship between Bob (Leland) and Laura. Something that, if it was hinted at in the show, is made ever more clear in this film. And while this movie does deal with supernatural elements much like the show, this movie is more about domestic abuse, something which is shown through vivid imagery that depicts a horrifying relationship between Laura Palmer and Leland Palmer. But it’s a relationship that’s both terrifying, and absolutely tragic. It comes down to the scene where Leland berates Laura for her dirty hands and slutty attitude, leaving her scared and in tears. But it’s followed by a scene where Leland breaks down on his bed, and the character of Leland finally shines through. It is no longer Bob, though he still has grasp on Leland’s subconscious, it’s mainly Leland here. He walks to Laura’s room, grabs her hand, and reinforces his love for her. His true love. It makes the scene where Leland dies in the show even harder to watch, because in that one scene you see Leland realize what he’s done, the horror he’s caused, the people he’s hurt. And he’s in absolute shock.
Laura and Leland are two of most interesting characters in the show, and whereas Laura is more of a presence in the show than an actual character, her performance here makes you wish there was more of her in the show. She not only sells the absolute shock and misery of confronting the reality of her killer, but also the secret double life of Laura Palmer. One of my favorite moments is where Bobby confronts her about possibly seeing another man, and she stands facing him, and her smile slowly creeps him, causing him to pass it off and walk away. It shows how controlling she is, and how she uses her beauty and attitude to control others, yet she really is lost in this world. And really if the show didn’t put in perspective how no one really knew who she was, Fire Walk With Me brings it all full circle. And the unsung hero of Twin Peaks, also known as Ray Wise, is featured heavily here. I call him the unsung hero because he’s given the most demanding role of the show, playing both Leland Palmer and the character of Bob (who must act like Leland Palmer). And here is no exception, his performance is top notch.
Fire Walk With Me is one of those films where every aspect is essential to the final product. The music, camera work, disturbing sound design, timeless set pieces such as cars or props or locations, acting, and cinematography all work to create a unique and strange experience that leave a lasting impact after you’ve seen it. And it’s easy to see why it bombed. This is pure Lynch. It’s a middle finger to television and critics, it’s Lynch saying, “This is my world, accept it or leave.” And in Twin Peaks you always must expect the unexpected. And this is absolutely no exception. One of the most confusing, baffling, terrifying, and impactful films I’ve seen in recent memory.