A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this film is extremely violent and contains numerous explicitly sexual scenes. It's also confusing and disturbing, without any resolution.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Bill Pullman plays Fred Madison, a jazz musician. He and his wife Renee (Patricia Arquette) find a series of strange videotapes on their front steps. The police are called and before long Fred is accused of murdering Renee and is sent to prison. There, somehow, he is transformed into another character, Pete Dayton (Balthazar Getty), a young auto mechanic. Pete soon meets a gorgeous woman, also played by Arquette, who seduces him in more ways than one. The cast also includes Robert Loggia (who has a wonderful but violent scene about tailgating) and Robert Blake, who is really, really creepy and mysterious as a really, really creepy and mysterious man (in the credits he's listed as Mystery Man).
Is it any good?
The first thirty minutes of LOST HIGHWAY are a David Lynch fan's dream. All his trademarks are there -- the darkness, the atmospheric soundtrack, the rich colors, the exquisitely slow pacing, the long silences, the disturbing mystery. There's no logic to the plot, and no resolution. After the transformation of the main character, it's almost as if reality has become unmoored, and the viewer can either float along with it or try (most likely in vain) to wrench some sense out of it.
Lynch is a brilliant director, and the film has the look and sound that he's made his own. But it's muddled and confusing, and ultimately feels somewhat manipulative -- is the director laughing at us for trying to follow this scrambled story? Is there something there that we're just not smart enough to figure out? Die-hard Lynch fans and film majors may want to check this one out, but for most of us there are much more accessible and enjoyable (while still creepy) ways to experience Lynch's work.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: January 25, 2002
- On DVD or streaming: January 25, 2002
- Cast: Bill Pullman, Patricia Arquette, Robert Blake
- Director: David Lynch
- Studio: Focus Features
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 129 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong language, sexual scenes and extreme violence
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch