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Twin Peaks - Fire Walk with Me - Review

Though Lynch’s final installment of Twin Peaks differs a great deal from the rest of its narrative flow and style it must be considered on terms that are wholly different from those of a television series. Considered as a flop upon its release, the film, Fire Walk with Me, takes a more intimate look at the events leading up to Laura Palmer’s murder. It is notable for its darker and more explicit imagining of the the town and some of the original series’s key characters. It holds back less of the dismal subject matter that the television show seems to dance around. The existence of “the Lodge” and the madness inherent in its occupants is more intrusive to the story and its relation to the “reality” of Twin Peaks is more clear.

David Lynch and Mark Frost’s movie effort does well in preserving some of the show’s original charm. In moments where all seems hopeless and lost there is still a nervous humor that flares up in that peculiar way similar to the abrupt shifts in emotional tone that characterized the television series. One scene in particular has Bobby and Laura stricken with fear and shock at Bobby’s sudden killing of a cocaine dealer (who was earlier seen in the film as a local cop from the town over who stands in the way of Chris Isaak’s Chet Desmond), when out of the blue Laura begins to giggle. It is an eerie reaction that lends a degree of complexity to Laura’s character. Such is the Lynchian style: raw depictions of the emotional reactions that can be felt in instances that may not welcome them. There is also a familiar irony – albeit more blatant – to the scene in which Angelo Badalamenti’s theme scores the banality of the high school hallways Laura moves through towards the bathroom where she powders her nose before class.

On its own two legs, however, the movie does require an appreciation for what one has already learned of characters through their more episodic portrayals. Laura’s mother and father are more fully understood by way of the family trauma that seemed to lay beneath the original storyline. It was always there, but never quite given the disclosure for it to be considered clear. Subtleties such as Mrs. Palmer’s excessive smoking and apparent comprehension of the father-daughter tension speaks volumes for her behavior in the television show.

Other prominent acknowledgements include the emotional complexities of Laura’s relationships that were left so ominous in the show. Between Bobby and James there seems to be fragments of Laura’s affections and compulsions, of which she does not seem able to concentrate into one projection of herself. While Bobby seems to garner Laura’s more rebellious and fun-loving side, James brings out her compassionate and troubled emotions. Yet, all the while her confusion as to her father’s betrayal and its connection to Bob (for whom she has no name) leads her to the darkness of sexual perversion in secrecy.

Twin Peaks was always an ambitious narrative with a depth not fully stated. The disappearances of Agents Chet Desmond and Phillip Jeffries seem to drive forth the unintelligibility of the Lodge and just how it pervades the reality beset upon someone like Agent Dale Cooper. He seems in tune with the supernatural forces at work, yet unable to describe or comprehend their meanings. And that is maybe the wisdom of Fire Walk with Me, there may be no way to simply address such lurking depravity and issues of impurity.

One thing is certain, the film retains the intuitive properties of the show that were always difficult to grasp. Sometimes we may find ourselves looking too far into what is simply there to be there. What Lynch took his time with to build-up in the show he delivered in more succinct bursts of dramatic tension and emotional tenor. There is fear and there is horror and that alone, rather than any issue in need of resolution, seems to be the conflict. The Man from Another Place lines up an interesting perspective on the bizarre nature of the Lodge when he says to Laura’s tormentor: “Bob, I want back all my Garmonbozia (pain and sorrow)”

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