Saxophonist Fred Madison (Bill Pullman) receives a series of videos showing the exterior, then the interior, of the house he shares with his wife Renee (Patricia Arquette). Then, after meeting a mysterious man at a party, he receives another tape showing him with Renee's dismembered corpse. Found guilty of her murder, Fred is put in prison, where he inexplicably transforms into another person - mechanic Pete Dayton (Balthazar Getty) - who is set free and goes to work for Mr Eddy (Robert Loggia), a gangster who is dating Alice (Arquette again), Renee's blonde doppelgänger. Directed by David Lynch.
Plot is a meaningless term when trying to describe Lost Highway
. Here, more or less, is what happens: a noise-jazz saxophonist (Bill Pullman) suspects his wife (Patricia Arquette) of infidelity. Meanwhile, someone is breaking into their house and videotaping them while they sleep. The wife is murdered and Pullman is convicted of the crime. Then, in prison, he transmogrifies into a young mechanic (Balthazar Getty) who is subsequently released, since, after all, he's not the guy they convicted. Getty goes back to his life and meets a local gangster's moll, who happens to be played by Patricia Arquette... but none of this has much to do with what the movie is really about. Dreams are what intrigue director David Lynch. Not friendly, happy dreams, but ones that whisper what we think is real is just something we made up, something to keep ourselves from falling into chaos. Characters are fragments. Events happen not because they make sense, but because deep down we want these things to happen. Of course, in Lynch's dreams, as in our waking lives, getting what we want is not always pleasant. In the movie's best moments, you really have no idea what you're seeing. The screen is a big rectangle of colour and shadow, but what it represents could be anything. And yet, in those moments, you've been given just enough hints of place, character and story that these elusive images elicit a genuine dread, a sense that you might not want to see this, yet you can't look away; a sense that we are living on borrowed time, that something is fiercely askew in our psyches. As a whole, Lost Highway
is a failure: much of it is padded, gratuitous, and indulgent and pointless cameos bog down an already sluggish narrative. Yet within that failure are moments worth more than the entirety of most successful movies. --Bret Fetzer