Blue Velvet

1986

Blue Velvet

Critics Consensus

If audiences walk away from this subversive, surreal shocker not fully understanding the story, they might also walk away with a deeper perception of the potential of film storytelling.

94%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 71

88%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 76,821
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Blue Velvet Photos

Movie Info

Director David Lynch crafted this hallucinogenic mystery-thriller that probes beneath the cheerful surface of suburban America to discover sadomasochistic violence, corruption, drug abuse, crime and perversion. Kyle Maclachlan stars as Jeffrey Beaumont, a square-jawed young man who returns to his picture-perfect small town when his father suffers a stroke. Walking through a field near his home, Jeff discovers a severed human ear, which he immediately brings to the police. Their disinterest sparks Jeff's curiosity, and he is soon drawn into a dangerous drama that's being played out by a lounge singer, Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) and the ether-addicted Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper). The sociopathic Booth has kidnapped Dorothy's young son and is using the child as a bargaining chip to repeatedly beat, humiliate and rape Dorothy. Though he's drawn to the virginal, wholesome Sandy Williams (Laura Dern), Jeff is also aroused by Dorothy and in trying to aid her, he discovers his dark side. As the film nears its conclusion, our hero learns that many more indivduals are tacitly involved with Frank, including a suave, lip-synching singer, Ben (Dean Stockwell), who is minding the kidnapped boy. Director Lynch explored many similar themes of the "disease" lying just under the surface of the small town, all-American faade in his later television series Twin Peaks (1990-91). ~ Karl Williams, Rovi

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Cast

Kyle MacLachlan
as Jeffrey Beaumont
Dennis Hopper
as Frank Booth
Isabella Rossellini
as Dorothy Vallens
Laura Dern
as Sandy Williams
Hope Lange
as Mrs. Williams
George Dickerson
as Det. Williams
Priscilla Pointer
as Mrs. Beaumont
Frances Bay
as Aunt Barbara
Jack Harvey
as Mr. Beaumont
Brad Dourif
as Raymond
Kate Reid
as Party Girl
Dick Green
as Don Vallens
Fred Pickler
as Yellow Man/Det.T.R. Gordon
Philip Markert
as Dr. Gynde
Leonard Watkins
as Double Ed
Moses Gibson
as Double Ed
Selden Smith
as Nurse Cindy
Peter Carew
as Coroner
Jon Jon Snipes
as Little Donny
Andy Badale
as Piano Player
Jean Pierre Viale
as Master of Ceremonies
Angelo Badalamenti
as Piano Player
Donald Moore
as Desk Sergeant
Michelle Sasser
as Party Girl
Katie Reid
as Party Girl
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News & Interviews for Blue Velvet

Critic Reviews for Blue Velvet

All Critics (71) | Top Critics (21)

  • Blue Velvet has the air of a movie that flows out of the artist's obsessions the way silk comes from the worm... It shows what a brilliant filmmaker can do by nurturing his unconscious, by digging through mere cleverness to the sap of life.

    May 17, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Every viewing yields new insights. A berserko modern classic.

    Dec 2, 2016 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • The film releases a toxic narcosis of fear.

    Dec 1, 2016 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • Three decades after its initial release, David Lynch's Blue Velvet has lost none of its power to derange, terrify, and exhilarate.

    Mar 22, 2016 | Full Review…
  • The charged erotic atmosphere makes the film something of a hallucination, but Lynch's humor keeps breaking through, too.

    Mar 15, 2015 | Full Review…
  • Shocking, visionary, rapturously controlled, its images of innocence and a dark, bruising sexuality drop straight into our unconscious where they rest like depth charges.

    Nov 14, 2014 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Blue Velvet

  • Sep 29, 2016
    The debacle of adapting Frank Herbert's Dune in 1984, is now pretty much common knowledge among film enthusiasts. To put it plainly, it didn't do well at the box office and was even tagged with the moniker of being the Heaven's Gate of science fiction films. So upset was David Lynch with studio interference and losing final cut of the film that he vowed never to work with a big budget again. He regrouped, however, and two years later he delivered one of his own original scripts in the form of Blue Velvet. Not only did it put him back on the map but it's still widely regarded as one the best films from the 1980's. Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) is an impressionable young man who return's back to his home town to care for his ill father. After a visit at the hospital he takes a short cut through an abandoned field and finds a severed human ear. He takes it to the police before embarking on his own investigation. This leads him to nightclub singer Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) and a criminal underworld that he had no idea existed. The opening of the film has such a striking beauty to it with crisp and colourful cinematography by Frederick Elmes while Lynch doesn't mince his words on his message. White picket fences with vibrant red roses, a fire truck strolls by with a waving fireman while a man hoses down his manicured garden. It's quaint and calming imagery. Suddenly, the hose gets stuck on a branch, the water splutters and the infuriated gardener suffers a stroke. He falls to the ground while a toddler looks on and a dog's only interest is in catching the water from the hose which is still in the grasp of the fallen gardener. It's here that Lynch turns his camera to the grass and the dark underbelly of this picture-perfect, suburban lifestyle is exposed in a colony of insects. We then cut to a billboard saying "Welcome to Lumberton" - where it is later described as "a town where the people really know how much wood a woodchuck chucks". There's a playfulness on show and Lynch imbues the whole affair with satire and a deep cynicism. From here, Lynch takes his time with his narrative - which, when you look at it now, is deceptively simple. He uses a very linear approach throughout the beginning of the film. Lumberton is a middle class suburbia where seemingly everyone is pleasant and there's a feeling of safety. It has an air of mystery to it, though, after the discovery of the severed ear. It's from the investigations and uncovering the truth that the film gets more bizarre by the minute and the Lynchian weirdness begins to creep in. This is predominantly with the arrival of Dennis Hopper's Frank Booth. From the plethora of Lynch's obscure and unhinged characters, Frank is the one that seems to get the most attention. It's not hard to see why, though, as this deranged, amyl-nitrate huffing psychopath is a character that lingers long in the memory. It's an Oscar worthy performance from Hopper but, strangely, the academy choose to nominate him in the supporting category for Hoosiers. As good as he was in that film, Frank Booth has become one of, if not, the most iconic performance of his career. For all it's strangeness, though, effectively Blue Velvet is a film-noir. It has all the hallmarks of the sub-genre but, as is usually the case, Lynch puts his own spin on the proceedings. It's dark, gloomy and hugely atmospheric. It's also not without its disturbing elements as it delves into the darkest recesses of the psyche and explores the psychosexual motivations of its characters - which is hinted at with a quote from Laura Dern's angelic Sandy - "I can't figure out if you're a detective or a pervert". This line perfectly sums up the juxtaposition that courses throughout the film. Lynch is interested in capturing the different extremes; in society, human relationships and Freudian and Oedipal subconscious desires. All the while, he keeps us reminded that dreams can so easily lead to nightmares. If there's one moment that showcases Lynch's ability to project mood and capture the extremes it's with a cameo from Dean Stockwell as the suave, glad-handling dandy, Ben. His miming rendition of Roy Orbison's In Dreams using a worklight is simply one of the best scenes Lynch has ever put onscreen. It's at once hilariously comical yet also surreal and deeply fuckin' creepy. A startlingly beautiful yet genuinely horrific tale and proof that Lynch is probably the most subversive of filmmakers working today. This erotic and perversely self indulgent piece of work remains one his best films. To think that this came out in the mid 80's is proof of Lynch's untamed brilliance and majesty. Mark Walker
    Mark W Super Reviewer
  • Jan 24, 2016
    This has been on my to watch list for quite some time and today just happened to be the day. Incredible Lynch film that is just bonkers from beginning to end, a surreal film that transcends the medium. Dennis Hopper steals the film with a character so crazy it makes any other character he has played look normal. The film is an amazing story with unpredictable plot points and that ending is right out there. I'm amazed I delayed watching this film for so long, not a bad thing as I have only discovered Twin Peaks as well. Lynch is a distinct artist and this film won't appeal to everyone but I think critical is correct and it is one of the best films of the 80s. 24-09-2017.
    Brendan N Super Reviewer
  • Oct 13, 2015
    Like the other David Lynch film I've seen, Lost Highway, Blue Velvet is dark, and very very creative. Unlike Lost Highway though Blue Velvet is more of a traditional Mystery-thriller. David Lynch has a vivid imagination and colorful directing style. The symbols and themes in this film are very intriguing. There are the robins, the ear, the insects and bugs, love over evil, and the dim and bright light. Keep all of those in mind if you watch this film for the first time because it helps you understand the plot but also the point and style Lynch is trying to convey. He borrows neo-noir style and classic mystery ideas to make this great. There is also great performances by Kyle McLachlan, a young Laura Dern, and the always villainous Dennis Hopper. (RIP) Consider me a fan of David Lynch. Also present in this film is a great soundtrack that goes with its darker tones and ideas.
    Ian I Super Reviewer
  • Sep 28, 2015
    Blue Velvet is a film you should definitely see if you are a fan of filmmaking or noir or the surreal, but it is a hard film to recommend. That is mainly because the acclaim it got from when it first came out does not really translate to present day, and so one would tend to get an impression and have expectations that the film is not going to match. It has been so many years and nowadays the vibe of the film is different. At the same time, it really is a good film and perhaps can be better appreciated not for being outrageous or frightening, but rather for some fine filmmaking and acting. In particular, loved the set for the female lead's apartment and the performance by the actress playing her was quite good. The film has many memorable bits and pieces, but the overall vibe is about half as intense as watching an accident involving two vehicles with the highest safety rating and everyone has on their seatbelts. This sounds like it is bad, but it is not. Like I said, it is hard to write a review for. This is really a very good, a very theatrical film; and it is good to see, not so much for shocks and frights, but to appreciate a nice piece of work.
    Robert B Super Reviewer

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