Written by David Lynch & Barry Gifford, Lost Highway was released in 1997.

Actors include (short, non exhaustive, list) :

Bill Pullman as Fred Madison
Patricia Arquette as Renee Madison/Alice Wakefield
Robert Blake as Mystery Man
Robert Loggia as Dick Laurent, Mr. Ed
Balthazar Getty as Pete Dayton
Marilyn Manson as Porno star #1
Twiggy Ramirez as Porno star #2

Music is one of the strength of this movie, and its use is something that Mr Lynch totally understood and mastered.

Complete soundtrack listing* :

"Song for the Siren"
by This Mortal Coil

"I'm Deranged"
by David Bowie

"Videodrones; Questions"
by Trent Reznor

"Driver Down"
by Trent Reznor

"The Perfect Drug"

by The Smashing Pumpkins

"Red Bats with Teeth"
by Angelo Badalamenti

"Haunting & HeartBreaking"
by Angelo Badalamenti

"Dub Driving"
by Angelo Badalamenti

"Fred & Renee Make Love"
by Angelo Badalamenti

"Fats Revisited"
by Angelo Badalamenti

"Fred's World"
by Angelo Badalamenti

by Angelo Badalamenti

"Mr. Eddy's Theme 1"
by Barry Adamson

"Mr. Eddy's Theme 2"
by Barry Adamson

"Something Wicked This Way Comes"
by Barry Adamson

"Hollywood Sunset"
by Barry Adamson

"This Magic Moment"
by Lou Reed

"Apple of Sodom"
by Marilyn Manson

"I Put a Spell on You"
by Marilyn Manson

by Antonio Carlos Jobim

by Rammstein

"Heirate Mich"
by Rammstein

"Apple Of Sodom"
by Marilyn Manson

"I put a spell on you"
by Marilyn Manson

by Classics IV

(*some of those songs are not featured on the Lost Highway soundtrack CD)

Most of these information come from the numerous times I watched this gem and were verified thanks to the Internet Movie DataBase (http://www.imdb.com)
This is probably my favorite of the David Lynch films I've seen. It gave me nightmares. Most people I know saw Lost Highway and wrote it off as nonsense. This could be true, but I think it can be interpreted a few ways to form a coherent meaning. I'll try to explain my personal interpretation.

Do NOT read this if you haven't seen the film or plan on seeing it

The film begins by introducing the two supposed main characters, Fred and Rene, whose marriage(as well as their sex life) has begun to collapse. Fred gets paranoid and starts to suspect that Rene is having an affair with someone (it later turns out that she's cheating on Fred with Dick Laurent/Mr Eddy). Fred doesn't take this well, and decides to deal with their infidelity by murdering Rene. My guess is that he was influenced or possessed by the "mystery man" before the act took place. Fred is caught and imprisioned where he seems confused and disoriented. This is where the film takes a sharp turn. While in his cell, Fred complains of a severe headache. He looks up at the ceiling of his cell and sees the blue light seen in many other Lynch films. The next morning, a guard comes to check his cell and sees another person in place of Fred. Since it's not Fred in the cell, they release him. The story starts off from here with a new line up of characters as if everything before this point had never ocurred. I think this is the beginning of a fantasy. Fred's fantasy, made real by the "devil man". Fred becomes Pete (a young mechanic), and Rene becomes Alice. Pete and Alice have a relationship that is everything that Fred and Rene's wasn't. Alice is cheating on her gangster boyfriend (Mr. Eddy) for Pete, instead of vice versa. Their relationship is dangerous and passionate. Eventually, things change. Pete begins to see things in Alice that he hadn't seen before. He discovers her history in pornography. Her characer becomes unpredicable and irrational. Despite this, the two attempt an escape into the desert. A sex scene follows where Pete tells Alice that he "wants her". Alice replies "You can't have me". Fred sees that his dream has gone awry and awakens. Alice retreats into a creepy wooden shack and disappears. Pete disappears as well, replaced by Fred. In the end, Fred kills Dick Laurent/Mr. Eddy out of jealousy and to avenge his shattered relationship. The final scene shows Fred fleeing from the police, finally understanding how the mystery man has been driving his actions from the beginning.

It seems that this film is about giving into temptation when it arises. Fred was overwhelmed by his anger and jealousy, which were fueled by the suggestive mystery man. Unfortunately, Fred was unable to resist his urges. The only character to come out on top in this story appears to be the orchestrator of the strange string of events.

Dick Laurent is dead...

Lost Highway

MPAA: Rated R for bizarre violent and sexual content, and for strong language.
                                                    ...and for the killer headache it will give you trying to figure it out.

Alright, it's time for another session of movie analysis with your easily confused, but eager-to-learn host, volfied. If you have not seen Lost Highway I would strongly reccomend you stop reading right now. Half the fun of movies like this is the mind-numbing confusion. Just like with Donnie Darko and Mulholland Drive, I got through Lost Highway and had no clue what I had just watched. I'm too used to thinking that what I see in a movie is actually happening. This is not a good viewpoint to assume when watching a David Lynch film. So, as is my wont, I sniffed around online and read various interpretations until I arrived at what seemed like a logical (if such a thing is possible with Lynch) explanation of the film.

The secret lies in the videotape. This is the one element that holds the key to unraveling this whole movie. In Lost Highway, video tapes do not lie, and that is why Fred Madison (Bill Pullman) hates them. The most critical line, though seemingly innocuous when it is delivered early on in the film, is the following:

Police: Do you own a video camera? Renee: No, Fred hates them. Fred: I like to remember things my own way. Police: What do you mean by that? Fred: How I remember them, not necessarily the way they happened.

Video tapes force you to confront the truth, and that is one thing Fred Madison is unwilling to do. This information leaves the bulk of the film open to interpretation. What is actually happening? Who is real and who isn't? How much of this is being made up by Fred and why? This much seems clear, well, okay... about as clear as mud, but it holds up to scrutiny:

Before Lost Highway
  • A younger Renee (Patricia Arquette) met Andy at Mulk's and was offered a job in Andy's pornographic films.
  • Through Andy, Renee became involved with Dick Laurent (Robert Loggia), a powerful and domineering gangster.
  • Renee met Fred, and the two fell in love and married, though Fred knew nothing of Renee's involvement with Andy and Laurent.
  • Renee continued to see Laurent because she feared his anger and could not break away from him.

The Beginning of Lost Highway

  • Fred begins to suspect Renee's infidelity as the spark leaves their marriage. His suspicions are confirmed when he calls home and no one answers, then later sees her at the club with Andy.
  • Fred follows Renee. He finds his wife with Laurent in Room 26 of the Lost Highway Motel.
  • After Renee leaves, Fred captures Laurent and drives him out to the desert, where he kills him.

The Middle of Lost Highway

  • Fred and Renee attend a party at Andy's house where Fred lets slip that Laurent is dead, a fact which no one else knows yet.
  • To cover up his blunder, Fred returns to Andy's house and kills him.
  • Fred returns home and, in a fit of jealous rage, kills Renee.
  • Fred is arrested for the murders.

The End of Lost Highway

  • Fred is tried and sentenced to death.
  • In his cell, Fred awaits his execution and becomes more and more overwrought by what he has done.
  • Just as the switch is flipped on the electric chair, Fred escapes to a fantasy world of his own creation, a psychogenic fugue.
  • His fantasy unravels and, just as the last of the electricity courses through him, he finally accepts what he has done.

While 95% of the movie is pure fabrication, the latter half is Fred's fevered imaginings while in his death throes, in which he attempts to legitimize the murder of his wife. In this fantasy world Fred conjures up, he assumes the role of Pete Dayton (Balthazar Getty), a bold, young auto mechanic, while Renee becomes Alice, once more the gangster's dame. Dick Laurent is known as Mr. Eddy. Fred's character is no longer being cheated on. Now, Mr. Eddy is the cuckold and Fred/Pete gets the girl.

Things go well for a while, but reality begins to take hold in Fred's mind. The first we see of the real world breaking through is when Pete changes the radio from the jarring saxophone solo played by Fred early on in the movie, saying he doesn't like it, but it only gets worse from there. Pete begins to suffer the same headaches Fred complained of in his cell. He comes to distrust Alice more and more as she asks him to rob Andy so they can escape with plenty of money. The robbery goes awry and Pete's nose begins bleeding profusely once he sees Alice in the snuff film projected onto the wall. As he goes to clean up, he finds himself in the hallway of the Lost Highway Motel, and in Room 26 he is forced to confront her past yet again.

The two drive out to the desert where, just after an empassioned coupling on the rough sands, Alice tells Pete, "You'll never have me", and the entire fantasy falls apart. Pete becomes Fred once more and we snap back to the murder of Dick Laurent. Fred returns to his home where he uses the intercom to inform himself that "Dick Laurent is dead", symbolising his acceptance of his actions. He is then chased by the police down the highway. The dream, the movie and Fred's life all come to an end.

The fact that the movie begins and ends with the line "Dick Laurent is dead" is simply one of Lynch's little twists. The movie was not actually cyclical. Both times it was said were imagined by Fred. It is simply a reminder to the audience not to think of the movie in a linear fashion.

But what of the Mystery Man (Robert Blake)? He seemed so important! Well, in a way, he was. He was the driving force behind all of Fred's murderous rage. As you see, however, it is possible to explain the movie without mentioning him once. This is because he is not a real, physical character. The Mystery Man is the personification of Fred's jealousy. He makes his entrance as Fred and Renee's marriage begins to fall apart. He reappears in the fantasy when Fred realizes he can't have Renee. He hands Fred the gun and knife that are used to kill Dick Laurent.

In the end, while the videotapes did not actually exist, everything Fred sees on them is the truth. They depict what he was willing to admit to himself. Fred gradually sees more and more of the tape as the movie progresses. Renee was involved in Andy's snuff films. Fred killed her and he couldn't cope with it until the bitter end. As the movie closes, he is chased down the dark highway of his mind by hordes of police, driving him back to reality to meet his fate.

...Dick Laurent is dead.

IMDB - imdb.com
Demystifying Lost Highway - mediacircus.net/lh.html

Several things happened between several weeks ago, when I watched Mulholland Drive, and several days ago, when I watched Lost Highway. The most relevant is that I discovered David Lynch's YouTube channel, where he gives a daily weather report, in one minute summing up the weather, as well as giving some cheerful advice on life and art. When the Pacific Coast fires were turning my life into an apocalyptic misery, Lynch was reminding us to look forward to a better tomorrow and thank our fire fighters. In the year 2020, David Lynch is a beloved and wholesome figure that is just a step below Mr. Rogers for being a trustworthy figure.

Which might have been the wrong mindset to go into watching "Lost Highway", a 1997 film that combines noir elements with a soundtrack and attitude taken from the gothic subculture of the time.

I watched the film and got some sense of what was going on. It was a mystery that came together slowly, and like many, most or all viewers who were not David Lynch himself, I still don't have a full picture of what was going on. We meet a man, Fred Madison, played by Bill Pullman, who seems to be in a somewhat tense marriage to Renee Madison (Patricia Arquette). They begin receiving videotapes, taken by a stranger who is in their house. At a party, Madison meets this man (Robert Blake), and the strangeness increases until Madison is found to have murdered his wife, and is sentenced to death row. One day, when the guard checks his cell, he finds someone else there: a young man named Pete Dayton (Balthazar Getty), who has no idea how he got there. Pete is a pretty good kid, working as an auto mechanic, despite a few brush-ins with the law, and a job as the favored mechanic to gangster Mr. Eddy. But when he meets Mr. Eddy's mistress, also played by Patricia Arquette, but going by the name "Alice Wakefield", his life gets complicated as he starts an affair with a woman who proves very dangerous to him.

The consensus view of the film's plot, almost 25 years after its release, is that Madison murders his wife and her lover, and then while on death row, imagines himself into the role of the young, innocent Pete Dayton, seducing his wife away from an older man. This seems like as good a synopsis as any, and "jealous lover enters dream state to avoid guilt" was also probably the plot of Mulholand Drive. It also doesn't fully explain everything we see in the movie. It also wasn't my own view when I finished watching the movie. Wanting to capture my thoughts before they could be contaminated by a consensus view, this is what I scrawled down after watching the movie:

A man tries to find meaning/significance symbolized by Patricia Arquette's character, but eventually becomes corrupt, circling through the stages of corruption. A way out of it is "The Lost Highway", the road to true meaning.
Alice Wakefield proclaims "You'll never have me", and it can apply to the three male characters, the young and eager Dayton, the weary, middle aged Madison, and the cynical, violent Mr. Eddy.

That is my interpretation. It doesn't explain everything.

After watching the movie, and thinking about the plot, I went back to thinking about the tone. This film was released in 1997, and other than the 1992 movie Fire Walk With Me, a continuation of Twin Peaks, was Lynch's only project in the 1990s. Some parts of it seem dated now: not just the bulky cell phones and VHS tapes, but the film's incorporation of gothic fashion and music. The soundtrack features Rammstein and Marilyn Manson, and Marilyn Manson also has an acting role. The scene where Pete Dayton meets Alice Wakefield plays the 60s classic "This Magic Moment", but in a darker version, performed by Lou Reed. While David Lynch has obviously never been afraid to feature the bizarre, this film feels like he is going for grim and gritty, dark and edgy, in the most 90s fashion. Several scenes also seem like they would fit in a Quentin Tarantino movie: the scene where the gangster pistol whips a tailgater and the coffee table scene both seem like they would fit in a Tarantino movie. And in this movie, and in Tarantino's True Romance, a character played by Patricia Arquette tries to abscond with a bag full of stolen goods.

There are a number of 1990s films, from various genres, that all have a theme of people caught in a seemingly satisfactory life, but who yearn for something more. Groundhog's Day, There's Something About Mary, The Truman Show, The Matrix, Fight Club and Office Space might not seem to have a lot in common at first glance, but they are all about how normal life isn't enough. And this film is another film that seems to be about the same thing: Fred Madison, and later Pete Dayton, have satisfactory, even successful lives, but something seems to be missing from them. They seek meaning, symbolized by the Patrica Arquette character, but find only corruption. The "Lost Highway", their road back to meaning, is missing. And it might also reflect the mindstate of the creator. David Lynch, a man who seems to be able to find something creative in almost everything, almost seems like his own ability to create and find meaning is slipping away. A buoyant surrealism is replaced with a dismal and almost derivative usage of 1990s goth culture. Luckily for us, and for him, Lynch would find his voice soon enough.

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