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The David Lynch guide to love

Play it cool, use a dream diary, and indulge in some gas-fuelled sadomasochism – here’s how to fall the Lynchian way

Are you bored of dating? Is all that swiping making you weary? Do you wish you could inject some dreamy (and dangerous) new energy into your love life? Well, luckily, here’s where the cinema of David Lynch can help you. The neo-noir mastermind has spent nearly 50 years creating some of the most surreal on-screen relationships of all time: from the high-stakes romance of Wild At Heart’s Lula and Sailor, to the steadfast passion of Twin Peaks’ Ed and Norma. And sure – while many of these relationships may end terribly, and reek of toxicity – they’re at least a little exciting. So why not use their teachings to spice things up? Here’s six Lynchian love lessons you can take away today.


For Lynch, mystery is everything. These are characters who keep their cards as close to their cable-knitted chests as possible: swapping straight-up seduction techniques for coy, repressed flirtation. Even Twin Peaks’ Audrey Horne, with her blatant crush on agent Cooper, manages to keep things pretty muted – with the teen finding a demure appeal in oversized sweaters and pleated tartans. “I entered only to find Audrey Horne, an astounding eighteen-year-old woman,” says Cooper in one scene. “Though tonight, she seemed much more like a child to me.”


Lynch’s characters are, despite the dreamlike storylines, surprisingly classic. The men are often tall, dark and chiselled, while the women all have coiffed locks, sultry eyes and red-slicked lips. In fact, this kind of 30s-esque effort is so key to Lynch, that he’s even poked fun at the idea before; making Wild At Heart’s Marietta paint her entire face in lipstick during one stressful segment. Now that’s real glamour.


Lynchian, by its very definition, is dreamlike. The director is all about infusing banal Americana with an eerie air of taboo, with David Foster Wallace describing his work as a “particular kind of irony, where the very macabre and the very mundane combine.” His scenes never quite feel real – Eraserhead’s gross-out chicken dinner date, for example – which makes all the onscreen relationships feel far-out. So, if you’re feeling jaded by your day-to-day dating life, this dream-focused approach could make for an effective (/highly disturbing) remedy. 


If you’re having sex in a David Lynch film, it’s probably going to be pretty ...experimental. That’s just a given. The director seems to have made a conscious choice to drain any genuine romance out of the act itself – putting more of a focus on the unexplained mysteries of our carnal desires (see: Blue Velvet’s gas-fuelled sadomasochism, or his bizarre 1974 short The Amputee). “Sex is a doorway to something so powerful and mystical, but movies usually depict it in a completely flat way,” the director once revealed. “Being explicit doesn't tap into the mystical aspect of it either in fact, that usually kills it because people don't want to see sex so much as they want to experience the emotions that go along with it. These things are hard to convey in film because sex is such a mystery.”


Seriously, just look at Twin Peaks. These are characters that are so unconcerned by monogamy that it’s hard to keep track of the people who haven’t slept together. There’s Shelly and Bobby, who hook up on the table in front of invalid Leo, and there’s Norma and Ed, who have a lifelong love affair despite both being married. Even Donna and James can’t keep it together for more than two days after Laura Palmer’s death. Loyalty, in the Lynchian world, is officially dead.


Lynchian sex is twisted, as mentioned before, but sometimes it gets a little darker than that. Despite the director being fascinated by the act’s “mystical” power, he tends to paint it as abusive, non-consensual or manipulative. As a result, most of the women in his films suffer sexual abuse, or end up raped and murdered (or wrapped in plastic). It’s actually really dark, divisive stuff – making the chasm between sex and love feel further than ever. In the words of Lynch himself: “I discovered that if one looks a little closer at this beautiful world, there are always red ants underneath.”