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Imagine seeing this happen live. Or if you can’t, imagine if Lost had ended with Matthew Fox apparently possessed by the Smoke Monster. The Internet would have gone into core meltdown. People would have rioted. Or started a #TwinPeaksRiot hashtag on Twitter and never actually done anything. But this was TV in 1991. No social-networking platforms, ergo no socially networked outrage. No grassroots #SixSeasonsAndAMovie campaigns, either; no DirecTV reprieves, no IFC or Netflix to bankroll new episodes, no chance of an expanded-universe line of graphic novels starring weirdly drawn approximations of MacLachlan & Co. You kids today, with your entitlement and your recaps and your direct line to Dan Harmon’s man-cave — you don’t know how good you have it. It’s almost like the whole of Internet TV-fandom was called into being to prevent anyone from ever again suffering the kind of non-closure Twin Peaks fans got from that diabolically open-ended finale

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Lee, who managed to thoroughly haunt the TV series, is wrenching and phenomenal as the living Laura. Greil Marcus called her work “the most bottomless female film performance of the latter days of the twentieth century — the most extreme, the most dangerous,” and he’s not wrong. She’s playing a child who tries to protect herself by co-opting a language of cruelty and sexual intimidation, bent on destroying her own innocence before BOB can, a lost little girl pinballing between abject despair, femme-fatale tough talk, canny seductiveness, and just straight-up being a monster. Lee is playing a vast range of stereotypes and archetypes here, all of which still seem to have sprung convincingly from one character’s soul; this is, among other things, one of the bleakest, cruelest movie about teenage self-actualization ever made. The fact that Laura dies at the end doesn’t make her any less the hero of this movie; she’s Lynch’s version of Jean Grey–Dark Phoenix from the X-Men mythology, struggling valiantly against an unconquerable evil.

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Making this film was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It took five years and tormented me. I didn’t want to make it, and I wanted to give up many times along the way, but I also didn’t want this story to be out there in the words of someone other than the many people who lived it. Now it will be written about in many other people’s words, and I’m finally at peace with that. With the inaccuracies, with the new insights that I may not have arrived at on my own, with the broken telephone that happens when “concentric circles of people,” as my biological father says, begin telling their own stories without experiencing the original versions.