The director of programming at the Film Society of Lincoln Center delivers a short, sharp reckoning with the dangerous visions of celebrated filmmaker David Lynch.
Lim’s admirably concise consideration of Lynch’s career explores the director’s distinctive sensibility in thoughtful but accessible prose that displays both a sophisticated understanding of cinema and a rare talent for analysis and explication that avoids academic dryness or superficial gush. A personality as famously eccentric as Lynch’s demands some degree of biographical context, but Lim resists the urge to locate the signature psychosexual horrors of Lynch’s work in his upbringing and early experiences, instead effectively sketching a portrait of the artist as a relatively normal, if not particularly verbal, fellow who practices his craft not as a mystical naif but as a serious, dedicated artist committed to process and wary of intellectual analysis of the work. Lynch’s narrative preoccupations and morbid, gothic, bizarrely comic aesthetic were present from his first short films, and Lim traces the evolution and expansion of Lynch’s pet themes—duality, heightened contrast, the secrets and mysteries hidden in the mundane—throughout his mercurial career. Projects deemed failures, including the mystifying sci-fi boondoggle Dune and the intensely personal, alienating Twin Peaks sequel Fire Walk with Me, acquire new luster when considered as pieces of a larger whole, and sensations like Blue Velvet and the TV series Twin Peaks emerge not as anomalies but instances in which the cultural moment aligned with what Lynch had been up to all along. The book serves as an excellent primer for those unfamiliar with and curious about Lynch, as well as a pithy and insightful resource for confirmed fans wishing to deepen their appreciation and understanding of his work.
A streamlined and breezily engaging—but impressively rigorous—evaluation of a unique film talent; essential reading for fans of Lynch and the immersive, elusive worlds he creates.