The cult show "Twin Peaks" was reknowned for being weird and oddballish, but until fans have seen "Twin Peaks - Fire Walk With Me," they ain't seen weird yet. Without the restraints of weekly TV, David Lynch allows his unnerving imagination to run wild as it explores what happened before Laura died.
It begins with another FBI investigation -- waitress Teresa Banks has been murdered, but not much of the investigation is going forward. Then the investigation is dropped, and the movie skips ahead a year, showing us the last week of Laura Palmer's (Sheryll Lee) life.
In the course of those days, Laura is slowly slipping over to the Dark Side -- drugs, prostitutional sex, and nightmarish visions that are increasingly consuming her life. But as the drugs and sex take over Laura's life, she doesn't realize that a worse fate awaits her -- death, "wrapped in plastic."
David Lynch is known for making movies that are absolutely addling. They can make your brain hurt, and sometimes you never understand them at all. "Fire Walk With Me" goes under this heading. At the same time, it makes you think. And think. Like an Expressionist painting, it captivates as it bends your mind.
Lynch doesn't follow a real plot; instead, he lets the storyline slowly sink into Laura's downfall. Lynch paints the whole experience with nightmarish, surreal images and visions, and allows it to drip into your subconscious. And along the way, he fills it with slightly offbeat direction, heavy atmosphere, and the ability to make anything -- ANYTHING -- look menacing.
It's not exactly friendly to Lynch virgins -- if you don't know what to expect, this will simply tie your head in knots. And though this is a prequel, watch the TV show before venturing in here -- otherwise the appearances by Twin Peaks residents will simply go over your head. (Although it's fun to play "Spot David Bowie").
Lee does an excellent job as Laura, careening through the movie with a sense of doom. Laura's not likable here, but Lee keeps her from being a two-dimensional "fallen woman." And Moira Kelly is amazing as her good-girl pal Donna, while Kiefer Sutherland and Harry Dean Stanton have brief but solid roles as the FBI agents.
Though reviled when it was released, "Fire Walk With Me" This prequel was the last hurrah of the "Twin Peaks" series, but at least it was a worthwhile one.