It’ll be rather difficult for myself to speak of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me from the perspective of an outsider as Twin Peaks is my favourite television series. It’s clear that coming into Fire Walk With Me without having watched the series prior is not particularly as great an idea given as the ideas will remain clear especially to Twin Peaks fans, and for those unfamiliar, the results will just be on a mere baffling end for it is not accessible to anyone who has not seen the series. Normally I’d refer to the criticism that it’s a longer episode of the series for film, but Fire Walk With Me isn’t that, for there’s a lot that still works even without any connection to the series. It was what I would have wanted as a fan, though if it were a single episode, it wouldn’t be ranked among my favourites.
Given the intention that Fire Walk With Me has as a means of being both a prequel and a finale to David Lynch’s own beloved series, some problems I feel arise out of the first few moments. In these moments, the ideas fleshed out behind the investigation of Laura’s murder, which form the basis of the series, are coming again with the FBI agents investigating the first victim of the killer who will strike Laura in due time. I can see this coming to the benefit of some people outside of the series so it can give them an idea of what the experience can be like, but seeing we already know the motives, I’m not so sure what’s the point.
Outside of that crucial moment, what I feel helps the experience of watching Fire Walk With Me is the portrait of the downward spiral of our lead character. Unlike the television series, which focused so much on Special Agent Dale Cooper (whose role is only minimal in here), we focus on Laura Palmer. As we witness her emotional descent, Fire Walk With Me becomes a much more heartbreaking experience. Even without any form of connection to the television series, this is where Fire Walk With Me finds itself working best – in its picture of a breakdown of the human psyche till the moment of outburst.
Sheryl Lee as Laura is fantastic – in one of the finest female lead performances of the respective decade. She fits the character of the troubled Laura Palmer very well, she is a beautiful girl who is attempting to face some of her own inner demons. David Lynch’s portrait of her own arc is where Fire Walk With Me is at its most fascinating, and the buildup in regards to Laura’s mental health is where everything is just exactly as I would have wanted it. She carries the life which the atmosphere of the television show would have provided all around her spirit lingering around inside of such a dedicated performance.
While some cliffhangers from the original show are unsolved, I still think that there’s still enough to make Fire Walk With Me work well as a standalone film though reservations come to play. What someone like myself absolutely loved about the Twin Peaks series was how David Lynch puts many characters with a specific quirk to them inside of an absolutely surreal environment that adds more to the eerie atmosphere of everything, Fire Walk With Me captures everything again so perfectly. Although as a fan of the series it is indeed what I would have wanted, I was also hoping some cliffhangers were to receive answers and sadly, I did not receive any of that. Yet perhaps they were not needed, and thus it felt perfectly conclusive as is.
As a sendoff for the television series, Fire Walk With Me still works so perfectly well in that regard. Given the portrait of the descent into madness and how wonderfully it all plays out for all the heartbreak that comes out, I do wish that I could recommend it to everyone. Fire Walk With Me works so stunningly in that regard, but I feel it’s best experienced if one ever was a rather dedicated fan of the series. While I’m somewhat disappointed at how some cliffhangers from the show are left unresolved in this supposed finale, Fire Walk With Me still offered enough that left me satisfied with the experience, I’m only all the more excited for the new series.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via New Line Cinema.
Directed by David Lynch
Screenplay by Daivd Lynch, Robert Engels, from the television series created by David Lynch and Mark Frost
Produced by Francis Bouygues, Gregg Fienberg
Starring Sheryl Lee, Moira Kelly, David Bowie, Chris Isaak, Harry Dean Stanton, Ray Wise, Kyle MacLachlan
Release Year: 1992
Running Time: 134 minutes