David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me has undergone something of a critical rehabilitation in the years since it was booed upon its Cannes premiere in 1992. This follow-up to his acclaimed television series – which returns later this year for a much-anticipated third season – was too caustic, too nasty upon its initial showing. Lynch, freed from the censorious restrictions that TV imposes, pushed things, working, even more so than he did with Blue Velvet, towards a ferocious attack on the placid, sweep-it-under-the-carpet, surface of small-town America.
The film, which builds up to a depiction of the murder of teenager Laura Palmer that kick-starts the television series, examines the capacity for evil and horrendous violence that can exist within the seemingly ordinary family within a seemingly ordinary community. Of course, those who have seen the series will not experience any kind of suspense as the film progresses, but the virtues of Fire Walk With Me lie in its ability to provoke the audience, its formal sophistication and its all-out physical assault on the viewer’s senses.
It’s been ten years since David Lynch released his last film (the superb INLAND EMPIRE), and however the new season of Twin Peaks pans out, it’ll be a relief to have him back behind the camera. At this point in time, Lynch, with his interest in self delusion and moral hypocrisy, may be the artist that we need. A big-screen showing of Fire Walk With Me should serve to whet the appetite and remind film-fans of what we’ve been missing.