Information below is taken from the following link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090756/
Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) finds a severed human ear on a field, this leads him into a dark sexual underworld which is seemingly hidden from the ‘normality’ of surburban life.
Blue Velvet has the potential to be a masterpiece but never quite gets there. It’s well-directed, well-acted (especially by Hopper and Rossellini), and behind each and every scene is a sense of there being something not quite right, we get a sense that there is something hidden behind the so-called ‘normality’ of suburban life, which of course there is.
In terms of it being well-directed, there are scenes in Blue Velvet of such raw, sparse emotional power, that you cannot help but be disturbed by it. The severed human ear that Jeffrey finds leads him on a trail to the house of a singer, Dorothy (Isabella Rossellini). Jeffrey becomes obsessed by the idea of mystery. The police have furthered nowhere in terms of catching the criminals behind the severed ear he found at the beginning of the film, so throughout the movie, Jeffrey enters Dorothy’s room to act as a sort of ‘detective’ (or pervert…who knows?). Yet, when he tries to explore what’s going on in this secret underworld, he must be exposed to it. The door suddenly opens and Jeffrey runs into the closet; Jeffrey watches – as we do – the harshest and most brutal moments of the movie itself: a drug-induced man, named Frank (Dennis Hopper) enters the room and treats Dorothy with physical and sexual abuse (not just with some fists, but also with a handy pair of scissors which he just by chance has in his pocket…as you do). We later discover that Frank treats Dorothy as a sexual slave and has also kidnapped her son and husband; yet we also find out that she is a masochist and likes being hit, and no doubt, likes the trusty pair of scissors as well.
This – and other scenes in the film – are perhaps one of the most well-directed scenes in Blue Velvet (perhaps even in cinema history), they are so strong, so intense, so powerful; yet beyond these scenes the film goes nowhere in terms of exploring the dark, sexual underworld that it so loves to expose us (and Jeffrey) to. As I have already stated, the movie has the potential to be a masterpiece, but doesn’t quite get there. It attempts to say something about the secrecy of suburban life and how secrets are kept quiet and hidden, yet doesn’t; it attempts to say something about the whether it is good or bad to get involved in something that isn’t your business, yet doesn’t; it attempts to explore the human condition, exploring the themes of pleasure, sex, and violence; yet doesn’t expand on these as such. The main reason why Blue Velvet fails to explore all of these is because it’s almost as if it’s wrapped up in its own (strange) world, this world where it just seeks out to disturb the viewer. It disturbed me well, and indeed it’ll disturb you well. Another scene which demonstrates this well, is when Jeffrey and Dorothy are taken for a ‘joy ride’, why are they taken for a joy-ride? To disturb us of course! They are then taken to a night club and Jeffrey is punched repeatedly. Why is he being punched? To disturb us of course! There is no reason for this joy ride (and for Jeffrey’s poor stomach to have been wacked with a gangster’s fist) at all. You could take out the joy-ride scenes and the film’s plot would still make sense.
After viewing we feel like we’ve been short-changed with our emotions, as if the film’s toyed with our feelings for no good reason, it disturbs us, yet it tries to say something, but doesn’t quite make it. Or in other words, it disturbs us for no apparent reason at all.
Half marks here. 2.5 stars for its well-directed scenes, they work, they disturb, they will stay with you forever, and will probably make you look at a pair of scissors in a completely different light. Yet those scenes – and indeed the film – doesn’t say much at all.