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Plot is a meaningless term when trying to describe Lost Highway. Here, more or less, is what happens: A noise-jazz saxophonist (Bill Pullman) suspects his wife (Patricia Arquette) of infidelity. Meanwhile, someone is breaking into their house and videotaping them while they sleep. The wife is murdered and Pullman is convicted of the crime. Then, in prison, he transmogrifies into a young mechanic (Balthazar Getty) who is subsequently released, since, after all, he's not the guy they convicted. Getty goes back to his life and meets a local gangster's moll, who happens to be played by Patricia Arquette... but none of this has much to do with what the movie is really about. Dreams are what intrigues director David Lynch. Not friendly, happy dreams; his dreams whisper that what we think is real is just something we made up, something to keep ourselves from falling into chaos. Characters are fragments. Events happen not because they make sense, but because deep down we want these things to happen. Of course, in Lynch's dreams, as in our waking lives, getting what we want is not always pleasant. In the movie's best moments, you really have no idea what you're seeing. The screen is a big rectangle of color and shadow, but what it represents, well, it could be anything. And yet, in those moments, you've been given just enough hints of place, character, and story that these elusive images elicit a genuine dread, a sense that you might not want to see this, yet you can't look away; a sense that we are living on borrowed time, that something is fiercely askew in our psyches. As a whole, Lost Highway is a failure: much of it is padded, gratuitous, and indulgent and pointless cameos bog down an already sluggish narrative. Yet within that failure are moments worth more than the entirety of most successful movies. --Bret Fetzer
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