The director's strongest, strangest work since the Twin Peaks days begins as the tale of a starstruck blond (Naomi Watts) who hooks up with a brunet mystery woman (Laura Elena Harring). For its first 90 minutes the film motors along this noirish route--Raymond Chandler shops at Frederick's of Hollywood--then goes defiantly, wondrously weird. This handsome, persuasively inhabited spook show reveals Lynch's talent for fooling, unsettling and finally enthralling his audience. Viewers will feel as though they've just finished a great meal but aren't sure what they've been served. Behind them, the chef smiles wickedly.
--By Richard Corliss