As the second season of Twin Peaks proved, there wasn’t much story left to tell after solving the first season’s overarching mystery of the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer. It turned out, however, that there was plenty to tell in the story of the weeks leading up to poor Laura’s demise. Indeed, as weird as David Lynch’s groundbreaking ABC drama series often was (talking logs, dancing dwarfs), it was nothing compared to the full-on R-rated nightmare Lynch was able to render in a theatrical feature, splattering the lurid unconscious desires of the pie-and-coffee-loving Northwestern town all over the big screen.
The contrast was a shock to many Peaks fans, who did not embrace the film. Seen today, however, Fire Walk With Me does enrich the Peaks universe, mostly by allowing viewers to see what Laura (Sheryl Lee) was like when she was alive, tormented by the twisted relationship with her father (Ray Wise) that tore her life in half, an altruistic good girl on the surface and a depraved bad girl in secret. The movie also gives some closure by hinting at what would become of Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), the intuitive FBI agent who stuck around long after Laura’s case was closed, only to meet a mysterious fate in the series’ cliffhanger finale. On its own, the film stands as one of Lynch’s bleakest visions – and one of his most empathetic.
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