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Essentially a prequel to David Lynch and Mark Frost's earlier TV series "Twin Peaks". The first half-hour or so concerns the investigation by FBI Agent Chet Desmond (Chris Isaak) and his partner Sam Stanley (Kiefer Sutherland) into the murder of night-shift waitress Teresa Banks in the small Washington state town of Deer Meadow. When Desmond finds a mysterious clue to the murder, he inexplicably disappears. The film then cuts to one year later in the nearby town of Twin Peaks and follows the events during the last week in the life of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) a troubled teenage girl with two boyfriends; the hot-tempered rebel Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook) and quiet biker James Hurley (James Marshall), her drug addiction, and her relationship with her difficult (and possible schizophrenic) father Leland (Ray Wise), a story in which her violent murder was later to motivate much of the TV series. Contains a considerable amount of sex, drugs, violence, very loud music and inexplicable ... Written by
If you were not a fan of the Twin Peaks television series you would not want to bother watching this film. Fire Walk with Me pretty much requires the viewer to have already seen every episode of the television show. If you haven't you will be well and truly lost as you watch this film unfold in the bizarre Twin Peaks universe. Assuming you have the requisite working knowledge of all things Twin Peaks heading in you'll at least be able to understand the film. Whether you'll like the film is an iffy proposition at best.
Fire Walk with Me is a prequel to the television series which means Laura Palmer is alive. But before we can get to Laura there's a thirty-minute or so prologue (a prequel within a prequel?) about the investigation into the murder of Teresa Banks, whom all the Twin Peaks die-hards know was the first victim of the killer who would eventually murder Laura. After what any fan of the television show will see as some typical weirdness, and not much in the way of resolution, the prologue ends and we move forward in time, jumping into the final week of Laura Palmer's life. It's nice to see Laura alive for the first time. The television show had already established Laura was not the sweet, innocent homecoming queen she seemed but her demons were, for the most part, only hinted at on TV. In Fire Walk with Me those demons are on full display. Where the television show was subtle, the movie is in your face. A little too much in your face some might say as David Lynch takes full advantage of all the opportunities provided by producing an R-rated movie. Certainly nothing is held back here as we watch Laura Palmer spiral downward towards her sad end.
In the rather brutal telling of the story of Laura Palmer's final days all the charm of the television series has been lost. For all the terrible things that occurred in the series the show always had that small-town, quirky charm. Not here. For the Twin Peaks fan it's nice to see those familiar characters again. And the film does add a lot to the Laura Palmer story and allows you to get to know her much better. But you may come away wishing you hadn't gotten to know her quite so well. Perhaps some things are better left unspoken and unseen. There were two sides of Laura Palmer and this film shows you much too much of the dark side. There was a lot of good in her, watching this film makes it hard to remember that even as you can't help but sympathize with the way she is being taken advantage of and the way she will meet her ultimate fate.
If you're a real Twin Peaks fan you really do have to see the movie. There is a lot to like about it. The story is captivating as ever, if decidedly less charming in this go-around. And the performances from the cast are mostly very good, most notably from Sheryl Lee who finally gets to play a living, breathing Laura Palmer after having been introduced to the world dead and wrapped in plastic. And Ray Wise as Laura's father Leland also does fine work in portraying a disturbing and complicated character. We never got to see Leland and Laura interact in the series and their relationship is fascinating to watch. Fascinating and also more than a little creepy as the movie's Leland is a constantly ominous, threatening presence. You'll miss Lara Flynn Boyle who for the film has been replaced in the role of Donna by Moira Kelly. Kelly fails to bring the same spark to the character that Boyle did. And while many of the characters from the show return you'll miss those who notably don't. Audrey and Benjamin Horne, Sheriff Truman, Deputies Andy and Hawk, Doc Hayward and Pete Martell and Big Ed...would have been nice to see them and some others one last time if even just briefly. It is nice to have the opportunity to go back to the Twin Peaks universe. Unfortunately it's not quite the universe you remember. This is a much darker, sinister and decidedly less enjoyable Twin Peaks. Sometimes you can't go home again.
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