The problem of talking about Lost roadsstill today 26 years after its release, is that one inevitably ends up trying to explain it, despite David Lynch being the first to say there is no need, that his film is open to any interpretation and that there is no unique and “official” reading of the events involving Fred and Peter, Renee and Alice, the Illusive Man and a guy who does weights in the next room. We end up using expressions such as the “Möbius strip” and “dissociative fugue” to reason about apparently insignificant details which, in full Lynch tradition, could hide essential truths if seen in the right light, and therefore, anxious to find a logic , you also end up not enjoying the experience as such.
The first thing we want to tell you about the return to the cinema, in a restored and 4K version, by Lost roads So it’s this: Don’t think too much about it. Above all, don’t think about it while you watch it, and let yourself be carried away by what you are seeing (and hearing): we are talking about what is probably David Lynch’s scariest film, and also the most sensual – which is no small thing, considering that Lynch is one of the best in the world when it comes to staging sex and eroticism. It’s more unstructured and disorienting than Mulholland Drive, less puzzles to solve and more experience; but it is also more accessible than INLAND EMPIREeven today (and despite Twin Peaks 3) the real ultimate Lyncan brick. There is a lot of the old Lynch inside but there is also already everything that will be found in the new one, the post-Mulholland Drive precisely, the one that has become famous because “he makes films that are not understood”.
The second thing we want to reassure you about, therefore, is that Lost roads you understand. Confusing, obviously, because it’s his mission, but like all Lynchani puzzles it has its rules, which in this case, among other things, are made explicit from the beginning and are not entrusted to external sources. The first comes from the first dialogue between one of the protagonists, Fred Madison, and a mysterious man consistently called The Illusive Man. The two meet at a party and the second introduces himself claiming that the two have already met before, right at Fred’s house. We spectators know that it is at least partially true: we have seen his face in a hallucination, superimposed on that of his wife Renee (Patricia Arquette, who accepted the role overjoyed to finally be able to play a femme fatale sexually desirable). But Fred denies it, because he doesn’t remember. The first rule is therefore that Lost roads it’s a film from which you can expect everything – including the fact that a mysterious man called Illusive Man can be at a party and at Fred’s house at the same time.
Once this has been accepted, and therefore accepted that the film’s logic is quite labile and even (gasp!) dreamlike, the second rule follows suit, and is linked to the sentence that was in italics in the previous paragraph. Fred and Renee have been receiving mysterious videotapes for days with footage shot in their house while they are sleeping. They call the police, and one of the two detectives asks Fred if they happen to have a camera in the house. No, replies his wife, because Fred hates cameras: “I like to remember things the way I remember them”, even if it actually happened differently. Here is the second rule: everything we see in Lost roads it may not have gone as we see it, and the only truth is that which was filmed and etched on film. It is thanks to videocassettes, for example, that we discover that thing we won’t write because we assume that there are people who have never seen the film and are here reading to persuade themselves to go to the cinema.
Nothing is as it seems, therefore, except what is filmed (videotapes at the Madison house, but also porn). These are two rules that betray the age of the film a little, and that make it seem naïve in this age of deepfake and editing programs available to anyone, but our advice is not to stop at the letter of the question and rather see Lost roads as a film about identity, about the division between ego, superego and id, about how much reality is influenced by how we see it but also about how difficult, if not impossible, it is to keep such a building standing in the long run: the truth will come sooner or later, and it certainly won’t set you free.
From many sides Lost roads has been referred to as a noir, or a neo-noir, and there is no doubt that, like and even more than Mulholland Drivethe film contains a large number of archetypes of the genre, at times stretched to almost become a parody: the saxophonist in crisis with his beautiful and distant wife, the naive young man seduced by femme fatale and therefore ends up in the crosshairs of a gangster, the pair of young lovers who commit crimes with the dream of being able to escape and start a new life. The (lost) streets at night, illuminated by street lamps, the bad places, sex and death that go hand in hand: the imprint is clear, but Lynch bends it to his desires, the scene of a gangster who beatings up is also imbued with psychoanalysis an innocent, uses the genre to tell us about his visions and therefore if and when necessary he distances himself from them, even makes fun of him. It is a manifesto of David Lynch’s idea of cinema even more effective than it used to be Fire walk with me five years earlier, which reworks both Eraserheads be Wild Heart and he does it in a savage way, with much less self-control than what the author will demonstrate four years later in Mulholland Drive.
After that, Lynch is also a smartass and has (almost) always been [da qui in avanti troverete qualche minuscolo SPOILER]. The idea, for example, of closing the film as it opened is a classic hook that invites speculation and the formulation of intricate but above all coherent theories – exactly what Lost roads it is not. It’s a film that has the feel of a great game, a hunt for clues that will eventually make sense of all the events. Lynch knows it and doesn’t care, stubbornly refusing to explain any detail definitively. So if you want you can cling to the hope that everything makes sense, that there is a 1:1 correspondence between all elements of the plot, even the most seemingly meaningless ones. In conclusion Mulholland Drive that’s how it worked, being ultimately the story of a fantasy in which a person takes refuge to escape from the gray reality.
Lost roads no, and you have to put your heart at rest. It is not The puzzle week under acids, it’s just the acids. It’s a hallucinating, distressing and at times arousing journey into the depths of the things we tell ourselves in order not to face reality. A film that tells itself with the non-logic of dreams, because maybe, who knows, it could really be a dream. Don’t try to figure it out how to they understand things today, in the era of the proliferation of pieces like “The finale of Lost roadswell explained”. Just enjoy it. Then, at the end, on the credits, you can start asking yourself questions, if you want. We bet you won’t feel the need?