The Uncomfortable Intimacy of ‘Lost Highway’

A film in 25 close-ups.
Lost Highway David Lynch
By  · Published on July 21st, 2017

David Lynch’s Lost Highway is a film that I think doesn’t get near the amount of respect it deserves. It’s a thematic midway point between Twin Peaks, which many consider one of the greatest TV shows of all-time, and Mulholland Drive, which many consider the greatest film of the 21st century so far, that deals, quite literally, with duality of identity within the same mind, the idea, manifestation, and consequences being someone and being someone else at the same time, unknowingly. It’s a film that’s less narrative than Mulholland and more philosophical than Twin Peaks, and in turn it occupies a deranged-fairy-tale kind of cinematic realm, it’s a nightmare-inducing bedtime story structured like a Moebius strip, a vortex of psychological trauma that becomes more addictive the deeper you go.

Twin Peaks and Mulholland Drive, these are films you observe, they are masterful narratives that play out on screen to prescribed ends, but Lost Highway is a film you feel, a film you experience, the narrative is what you make of it, what it means to you, and how it affects you. I saw Lost Highway five times in the theater, and I’ve seen it countless times since on DVD (and VHS there for a while), and every single time it is something new, because every single time I am someone new. That might sound too transcendental, but Lynch people know what I’m talking about. The film changes me, as sure as it does Fred and Pete, and it’s a wicked, delightful transformation.

One of the ways Lynch creates intimacy in Lost Highway, thus leading to heightened engagement with the audience, is through frequent close-ups, the best 25 of which have been compiled into the following supercut from Jose Sarmiento Hinojosa for Fandor. Whether the camera is focused on an object or a character, every one of these shots lassos your attention and pulls it into the film’s sphere of passion and perversity where Lynch proceeds to toy with it like a predator its prey.

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