Film Comment, July/August 2001
Whatever You Desire

By Howard Hampton

To sleep the Big Sleep, perchance to dream: "Until we meet again." We find Robert Blake's white-noise apparition materializing in David Lynch's Lost Highway, a video dybbuk with the power to rewind the future or fast-forward the past. He's a porno-geist haunting the movie's world, and ours, a walking Betacam spying, recording, and replaying scenes from a recurring nightmare/wet-dream - the Peeping Tom as all-seeing, all-distorting Private Eye. A far cry from Bogart's Marlowe, except for that one vicious moment when Marlowe executes the unarmed Eddie Mars, a preview of Robert Loggia's Mr. Eddy being forced to view his own murder on (what else?) a Watchman TV. Mr. Eddy is also shown a black-and-white stag film, a bit of black-magic exotica that looks like one of Carmen Sternwood's lost 8mm wonders. The twin sisters, or rather personae, Patricia Arquette so uncannily embodies merge there finally, dissolv- ing the boundary between fantasy and trauma, pleasure principle and paranoia. Two forms of sexual distance smear together like the ending and beginning of a perpetual loop: the unknowable remoteness harbored within human intimacy and the kiss-me-deadly nirvana promised by that sex-bomb mask. At long last Carmen speaks, as if for the first time, whispering the secret of her infinite prowess and infinite contempt in the ear of her redfaced audience: "You'll never have me."

© 2001 by The Film Society of Lincoln Center

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