David Lynch's “Blue Velvet” is one of the best examples of neo-noir, despite (or partially because of?) the director's obsessions. These include symbolism so heavy-handed it almost feels like he's making fun of you, and the need to interject surrealism into a fairly straightforward mystery for no other apparent reason than to be artsy.
Both of these characteristics are typical of all of Lynch's movies, from the unwatchably avant-garde “Eraserhead” to “Mulholland Drive.” In Blue Velvet, they work. This is partly because of Dennis Hopper's scarily convincing performance as psycho gangster/drug addict/sex pervert Frank Booth, who is probably the most upsetting fictional gangster I have ever seen. When Hopper is on the screen, you really believe you're looking at Frank Booth, and you're scared. I'm not sure what that says about Hopper personally, but it does the trick.
Isabella Rossellini plays a slightly crazy femme fatale, and Laura Dern plays the virgin half of that dichotomy. Forced to choose between them (without getting killed by Frank) is Kyle MacLachlan, later of Twin Peaks. He's a nice young man who never heard the saying “curiosity killed the cat,” and when he finds a severed ear in the grass one day he just can't let it go.
This is a weird and very dark movie, but that shouldn't be surprising in a David Lynch film. The story is good, but Frank Booth is simply mesmerizing- an animalistic force of evil who perverts or destroys everything he comes into contact with.