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David Lynch
Bill Pullman, Patricia Arquette, Balthazar Getty
David Lynch, Barry Gifford
Anonymous videotapes presage a musician's murder conviction, and a gangster's girlfriend leads a mechanic astray.
Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Dolby Vision
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French LPCM 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 135 min.
Price: $49.95
Release Date: 10/11/2022

• “Pretty as a Picture” Documentary
• “Sound Design” Featurette
• Music Video
• “Behind the Scenes” Featurette
• Trailer
• Booklet
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Lost Highway: Criterion Collection [4K UHD] (1997)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 12, 2022)

After a few prominent projects in the 1980s, the 1990s started with a bang for David Lynch. At that time, his pioneering TV series Twin Peaks became a sensation.

However, the filmmaker couldn’t maintain much of a connection with this more mainstream audience. 1990’s theatrical release Wild At Heart got spotty reviews and bombed at the box office.

Thus Lynch spent the 1990s with a lower profile than his burgeoning success might’ve hinted. 2001’s Mulholland Drive got Lynch a Best Director Oscar nomination and restored him to some form of prominence, however.

For a look at Lynch in his “wilderness decade”, we head to 1997’s Lost Highway. This film took the filmmaker toward noir, though with an unusual Lynch vibe.

In Los Angeles, saxophonist Fred Madison (Bill Pullman) lives with his wife Renee (Patricia Arquette). When Renee winds up murdered, authorities convict Fred of the crime and send him to prison.

After a period of incarceration, Fred mysteriously disappears and guards find young mechanic Pete Dayton (Bathazer Getty) in his cell instead. Despite the questions this musters, the facility finds no choice but to free Pete, and he embarks on a path that finds unusual intersections with Fred’s life.

If you know anything about Lynch’s films, you probably recognize that my synopsis tidies up the story to an enormous degree. Highway doesn’t really follow the narrative path I imply, but a more accurate discussion of the actual film would a) take forever and b) just seem confusing, so I went with c) short, sweet and summarized.

Though my overview does at least hint at the movie’s non-linear structure as well as its general weirdness. For instance, the sight of Arquette’s name as two different characters obviously offers a clue that Lynch will go down some unusual paths.

Which the viewer will expect, of course. Ironically, Lynch’s follow-up to Highway - 1999’s The Straight Story - became his most conventional work, which in a weird sense might make it his most subversive film.

1977’s Eraserhead acted as Lynch’s oddball “declaration of intent”. After somewhat more conventional works via 1980’s Elephant Man and 1984’s Dune, Lynch established himself as the King of Weird with 1986’s Blue Velvet.

Compared to Highway, the quirky Velvet looks like traditional Hollywood material. For all its oddness, Velvet still tells a fairly “normal” tale, whereas Highway embraces a much more abstract path.

As I’ve reflected in other reviews, I can find Lynch’s particular brand of strangeness tough to take at times. While I recognize his talent, his flights of fancy can feel “manufactured”, more like a self-conscious attempt to be different than anything organic.

This impression comes out in spades during Highway, and Lynch’s pursuit of the unusual damages what might become an effective noir spoof. At times, the film leans in that direction, and those moments becomes its most entertaining.

For instance, at one point Mr. Eddy attacks the driver of a car that follows him. One expects Mr. Eddy to confront law enforcement or a rival, but instead, it just turns out that he loathes tailgaters.

In this sequence, Lynch effectively subverts genre expectations and also gets in barbed comedy that would feel at home in a Mel Brooks movie. With scenes like this, we can sense the movie’s potential to give us a clever twist on the usual noir effort.

However, Highway mostly finds Lynch in love with his own patented brand of weirdness. This leads to a film long on scenes that accentuate quirks without much obvious purpose otherwise.

Again, Lynch likes to pour on weirdness for its own sake. Granted, some depth resides beneath the surface, but enough of the film seems self-indulgent that it becomes difficult to bother with the nuances.

This leads to a movie that often feels slow and purposeless. Highway takes forever to go anywhere that links the two sides, and when we finally arrive at that destination, we find it difficult to care.

Will my complaints matter to the Lynch fans out there? Probably not – they embrace his style and will go wherever he takes them.

As for me, I simply continue to find Lynch to offer a frustrating filmmaker, as his obvious talent too often gets buried beneath too much silliness. That impacts Highway and makes it an inconsistent cinematic experience.

Factual footnote: Highway provides Richard Pryor’s final film appearance.

Speculative footnote: I couldn’t help but wonder if Lynch wanted David Bowie – who appeared in 1992’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me - to play Fred. Bowie also played saxophone, and the song Fred performs sounds an awful lot like Bowie’s “Fashion”.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Lost Highway appears in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Likely due to intentional stylistic choices, this Dolby Vision release became a somewhat erratic visual experience.

Sharpness acted as the most inconsistent side of the image, so expect some oddly soft shots at times. Still, most of the movie demonstrated good delineation, even though it rarely seemed terrifically accurate.

Neither jagged edges nor moiré effects became an issue, and I saw no edge haloes. With a healthy layer of grain, noise reduction didn’t become a concern, and the flick lacked print flaws.

Colors opted for a low-key vibe that accentuated reds and ambers. Though the hues rarely got a chance to shine, the disc depicted the semi-ugly tones in an appropriate manner. HDR brought a bit of added heft to the hues.

Blacks felt deep and dense, while shadows appeared fairly well-developed. Again, stylistic choices impacted this domain, as these could seem a little murky, but they felt intentional.

HDR allowed whites and contrast to boast a little more range. No one will view this as a demo piece, but the 4K UHD seemed to reproduce the movie as intended.

As for the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it tended to accentuate music. The film’s score and rock songs used the five channels in an active and involving manner.

Effects became a more erratic participant. Some scenes with a more violent tone used the channels in an engaging way, but a lot of the soundscape showed restricted range. Nonetheless, the soundfield felt appropriate for the story on display.

Audio quality worked fine, with speech that came across as natural and concise. Effects showed good range and accuracy.

Music varied somewhat dependent on the source, but the score and songs usually felt lively and full. This turned into a largely satisfying mix.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? Both came with identical audio.

As for the Dolby Vision image, it boasted the standard format-related improvements, as it looked a bit better defined and more dynamic. I didn’t think the 4K offered a major step up, but it became the more satisfying of the two.

The included Blu-ray copy provides the set’s extras, and we begin with a 1997 documentary called Pretty as a Picture. It spans one hour, 20 minutes, 39 seconds and brings notes from writer/director David Lynch, producer/editor Mary Sweeney, writer Barry Gifford, producer Deepak Nayar, composer Angelo Badalamenti, musician Jocelyn West, artists Jack Fisk and Bushnell Keeler, Lynch’s ex-wife Peggy Reavey, Lynch’s children Austin and Jennifer, Elephant Man producer Mel Brooks, LA Museum of Art Curator of Photography Robert Sobiezcek, art critic Peter Frank, production designer Patricia Norris, director of photography Peter Deming, sound mixer John Ross, 1st AD Scott Cameron, and actors Bill Pullman, Patricia Arquette, Robert Blake, Robert Loggia, Jack Nance, Dean Stockwell, Natasha Gregson Wagner and Balthazar Getty.

Here we look at Highway’s path to the screen, story/characters, music and audio, production and costume design, cinematography, cast and performances, editing, and aspects of Lynch’s life and career.

Though “Pretty” starts as a take on the production of Highway, it soon transforms into a more general view of Lynch’s life and work before it heads back to the 1997 film. This structure means “Pretty” skips around a lot, but it nonetheless offers quite a lot of good information.

“Picture” also comes with 14 minutes, 17 seconds of “Outtakes”. In these, we hear from Lynch, Keeler, Fisk, Reavey, Gifford, and Brooks.

The “Outtakes” expand on the topics in the main documentary with some enjoyable but inessential moments. I do appreciate that we find some comedy from Brooks, as he remains pretty subdued in the primary piece.

With Next Door to Dark, Lynch and co-author Kristine McKenna read selections from their 2018 book Room to Dream. This audio-only piece spans 43 minutes, 39 seconds.

“Dark” covers a mix of topics related to Highway. McKenna chats during the program’s first half and brings the more nuts and bolts view, while Lynch then picks up with more esoteric observations. While not quite a substitute for a commentary, this becomes a pretty engaging discussion.

The Making of Lost Highway runs 13 minutes, three seconds and features Lynch, Arquette, Loggia and Pullman.

“Making” brings some circa 1997 thoughts about the film from director and actors. It brings a few insights but seems less satisfying than expected.

In addition to the film’s re-release trailer, we fine David Lynch, 1997. In this 11-minute, 25-second reel, we get Lynch’s memories of the film’s creation recorded years after the fact.

Lynch admits at the start that he doesn’t remember much about the period, but he still manages some decent notes. Though not a great piece, “1997” delivers some worthwhile thoughts.

Finally, the set includes a booklet that presents photos, credits and excerpts from a Chris Rodley interview with Lynch. It concludes the package in a positive manner.

After a brief period of mainstream success, 1997 saw the return of David Lynch to his own form of creepy weirdness. While aspects of the movie show promise, too much of it feels tedious and meandering. The 4K UHD comes with generally positive picture and audio as well as a reasonably good set of bonus materials. Leave this one for Lynch obsessives.

To rate this film, visit the prior review of LOST HIGHWAY

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main