Film review: Lost Highway (1997)

A psychological thriller film with elements of neo-noir. Something about this David Lynch movie has me hooked every time. Contains one of my favourite opening credits sequences. So mysterious and with an awesome song, which in it’s own twisted way sums up the movie. Another reason I love the film is the 90s soundtrack. Despite receiving mixed reviews upon initial release, the film has now developed a cult following.

The soundtrack is really great, highlights for me are Lou Reed’s This Magic Moment, The Smashing Pumpkins’ Eye, (who I don’t usually like), David Bowie’s I’m Deranged, and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Insensatez.

Much like Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, it’s a cryptic film that demands repeat viewings to better understand what’s going on. I’m pretty sure Lynch has added some Hitchcock MacGuffins to confuse his audience!

Another favourite sequence of mine is where Pullman meets the mystery man/death character, who says “We’ve met before, haven’t we?” So creepy and atmospheric to me.

Definitely one of the darkest and most disturbing Lynch films along with Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart.

The car chase was actually a situation Lynch himself experienced, I noticed on the extra features of Twin Peaks.

A minor problem I have with the film is the sound, the dialogue on my dvd is very soft, but when they shift to the club and saxophone, it’s very loud all of a sudden. Although, this may be intentional for the shock value. Unfortunately, I find myself turning the volume up and down.

Spoilers ahead: I’ve heard in an interview on Canal Plus, that Lynch was inspired by the O.J. Simpson trial, in such a way that O.J. could go on living despite the killings. People do things, and yet they keep on living. Lost Highway is about how you can repress some events and feelings in order to continue living a normal life. Having something, and the mind helping you to hide it, but sometimes these terrible things reveal themselves briefly, when the mind doesn’t work.

Lynch on Lost Highway: “A graphic investigation into parallel identity crises. A world where time is dangerously out of control. A terrifying ride down the lost highway

Lynch fell in love with a sentence from the book Night People by Barry Gifford: “We’re just a couple of Apaches ridin’ wild on the lost highway”.

Lynch on the title: “Its just a dreamy thing – Lost Highway. It evokes all kinds of things in your head. And then later on I found out that Hank Williams has written a song called Lost Highway” (Lynch on Lynch, page 221)

Interviewer: Fred and Renees house has an uncertain geography. It seems that it might be endless: that once you step into it, you’re entering some potentially vast, dark labyrinth. Dorothy Vallen’s apartment in Blue Velvet is a little like that.

Lynch: “Right. And that’s the way it is in relationships sometimes. You just don’t know how they’re going to go, if there’s an end to them or if there’s just more trouble” (Lynch on Lynch, page 225)
The metaphor of waking up beside your partner and experiencing them as a stranger can perhaps be traced back to some of Freud’s writing, a contemplation on how we grow apart?

I think the main character is losing his mind. One interpretation of the film is that in this breakdown the main character tries to imagine a better life for himself, but he’s so messed up that even this imaginary life goes wrong. The mistrust and madness in him are so deep that even his fantasies end in a nightmare. Lynch as quoted in Lynch on Lynch: “But why though. Because of this person. This woman. No matter which place you first start walking, eventually you’re going to walk into trouble – if you’re walking with the wrong person

Lost Highway has the logic of a dream, in other words there is no logic! Anything is possible in a dream, and everything doesn’t necessarily make sense, even for the director creating the dream.

In case you’re curious, a clue to solving the ending is the Pullman scene at about 23 minutes into the movie, where he talks about he likes to remember things his own way, not necessarily the way they happened. Good luck!

Readers, any thoughts on Lost Highway?

For more on Lost Highway, I recommend the website 35 years of David Lynch




  1. Love this movie even though it doesn't have the subdued texture and insight that I find in Mullholand Drive or Inland Empire but you can certainly see the beginnings of where those films are going. Could one consider this as the first of an L.A. trilogy?

  2. @Mike Lippert: Thanks for stopping by, L.A. trilogy, who knows? I hadn't thought of that. I'd certainly put inland empire and mulholland dr in the same category as they are both about the movie buisness.
    Lost highway is a bit iffy, I think it's more comparable to Wild at heart, being more erotic.
    Blue Velvet is quite similar to twin peaks, while the straight story fits the mood of the elephant man in my opinion.

  3. Like Mulholland Dr. This is one I had to watch multiple times before I could start to unravel the mystery about it, but I still oved coming back because of the characters, the soundtrack and the images. I hope this gets a proper Blue Ray release and I hope that would fix some of your sound issues. Great review btw

    1. @TheVern: Same here, I had to watch Lost Highway multiple times to figure out what was going on, and yes, the characters/soundtrack/images are endlessly rewatchable.
      Yeah, the sound really is poor on my dvd, so hopefully it gets fixed. Thanks, glad you liked the review!


What do you think about the post? I look forward to hearing from you. Rest assured I will reply soon.


Related Posts with Thumbnails