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Mulholland Drive (2001)

tomatometer

81

Average Rating: 7.4/10
Reviews Counted: 154
Fresh: 125 | Rotten: 29

David Lynch's dreamlike and mysterious Mulholland Drive is a twisty neo-noir with an unconventional structure that features a mesmirizing performance from Naomi Watts as a woman on the dark fringes of Hollywood.

88

Average Rating: 7.6/10
Critic Reviews: 34
Fresh: 30 | Rotten: 4

David Lynch's dreamlike and mysterious Mulholland Drive is a twisty neo-noir with an unconventional structure that features a mesmirizing performance from Naomi Watts as a woman on the dark fringes of Hollywood.

audience

88

liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 184,671

My Rating

Movie Info

Along Mulholland Drive nothing is what it seems. In the unreal universe of Los Angeles, the city bares its schizophrenic nature, an uneasy blend of innocence and corruption, love and loneliness, beauty and depravity. A woman is left with amnesia following a car accident. An aspiring young actress finds her staying in her aunt's home. The puzzle begins to unfold, propelling us through a mysterious labyrith of sensual experiences until we arrive at the intersection of dreams and nightmares.

R,

Drama, Mystery & Suspense, Special Interest

Joyce Eliason, David Lynch

Apr 9, 2002

$7.1M

Universal Focus - Official Site External Icon

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Latest News on Mulholland Drive

October 7, 2011:
Trying to Explain Mulholland Drive 10 Years Later
Moviefone rounds up five famous cinephiles to analyze "one of the most bizarre and confusing movies...
January 14, 2010:
Film Comment's Best of the Decade
More love for David Lynch's 'Mullholland Dr.' in Film Comment's Best-of-Decade poll of critics.

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All Critics (176) | Top Critics (38) | Fresh (125) | Rotten (29) | DVD (40)

Lynch needs to renew himself with an influx of the deep feeling he has for people, for outcasts, and lay off the cretins and hobgoblins and zombies for a while.

January 22, 2002 Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic IconTop Critic

One of the very few movies in which the pieces not only add up to much more than the whole, but also supersede it with a series of (for the most part) fascinating fragments.

November 8, 2001 Full Review Source: New York Observer
New York Observer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Like Twin Peaks, it keeps spooling out more narrative twists until the ingenious maze turns into an oppressive tangle.

October 28, 2001 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A movie to savour.

October 26, 2001 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Lynch challenges our expectations of narrative and credibility by luxuriating in something else -- the unexplained, the making of no-sense that (he says) underlies life.

October 24, 2001
The New Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Mulholland Drive makes movies feel alive again.

October 19, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic IconTop Critic

We go to Mulholland Dr. not merely for explanations, but for the euphoric sense that there is something beyond our understanding affecting us as we view it.

February 21, 2014 Full Review Source: Movie Mezzanine
Movie Mezzanine

It's a big mess! But not in a controlled sense like Lynch's other films.

April 24, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Geek Central
Film Geek Central

Leads us into our own strange need to untangle the spools of film and dream, fiction and truth, protective fantasy and traumatic reality. Lynch uses the twinkling lights and dazzling stars of superficial LA to warp us into a deeper, stranger surreality.

July 24, 2012 Full Review Source: Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

Fascinating movie for adults only.

December 26, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Billy Ray Cyrus as an amorous poolman punched by a mobster? David Lynch's commentary on independent filmmaking? Lesbian erotica as sad as it is exaggeratedly hot? Lynch's greatest puzzle box snaps together in sparse, bold, sexy and thrilling fashion.

September 19, 2010 Full Review Source: Suite101.com
Suite101.com

When directors get you to ponder this much and leave a lasting impression after you've seen a movie of theirs, they have to be doing something right.

April 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

As moviemaking -- as pure abstract art writ large -- this is a classic, a thing of dark mystifying beauty.

August 25, 2008 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

A summation work at midpoint career, this visually menacing horror picture, which deconstructs Hollywood as the dream factory, continues to explore such Lynchian obsessions as good vs. evil and dreams vs. nightmares.

October 20, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com | Comments (3)
EmanuelLevy.Com

As art, Drive is extraordinary. As a film for general audiences, it's bound to be misunderstood, condemned as pornographic, or exploited for cheap thrills.

December 6, 2004 Full Review Source: Looking Closer
Looking Closer

Once the film has its claws dug into you or has inveigled you via its seductive scent there is no way for it to relinquish its grasp, and Lynch wouldn't have it any other way.

February 21, 2004 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

Go for the performances and the photography, but don't talk about the film over coffee afterwards - you could still be ordering triple espressos the next morning.

March 26, 2003 Full Review Source: RTE Interactive (Dublin, Ireland)

A Sapphic Nancy Drew Mystery on the Lost Highway ... When it comes to Lynch, the journey is always more interesting than the destination

March 19, 2003 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

...A dreamy, nightmarish, highly contemplative piece of celluloid that, while it will certainly not appeal to everyone, is just the kind of thing critics love: something different.

February 8, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Quips Online
Film Quips Online

Another strange and twisted film from the bizarre mind of David Lynch.

January 29, 2003
Cinema Sight

Some very clever experimental cinema in the Lynch vein.

December 8, 2002 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

It's a self-indulgent but mostly absorbing meditation about the business of filmmaking, and Lynch spares no egos in this near-parody of the craziness that is Hollywood.

October 21, 2002 Full Review Source: San Diego Metropolitan
San Diego Metropolitan

Nobody, but nobody, makes movies as glossy, hypnotic, repellant, exciting, annoying, memorable, incoherent and entertaining as writer-director David Lynch.

October 15, 2002 Full Review Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati Enquirer

My biggest gripe is that this open-ended noir mystery, dark comedy and indictment of Hollywood as morally bankrupt Dream Factory should have felt fresher and been more fun.

October 10, 2002 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review
Sacramento News & Review

A beautiful, woozy mystery for the id... a surrealistic gem whose terrifying visions of despair stick to you like an inescapable night sweat.

September 9, 2002 Full Review Source: Entertainment Today
Entertainment Today

...movies needn't be coherent to be affecting, and the best art provokes emotions not easily rendered in language.

July 26, 2002 Full Review
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Audience Reviews for Mulholland Drive

One of the most complex, seductive and brilliant journeys into the obscure underworld of the unconsciousness to be ever experienced, brought to us by the incredible mind of David Lynch, who takes us into this elaborate dreamscape that holds the key to an extremely sad reality.
August 7, 2013
blacksheepboy

Super Reviewer

Having bewitched audiences with the likes of Eraserhead, Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks, David Lynch has once again shifted the goalposts of filmmaking as he enters the fourth decade of his career. Mulholland Drive is an astonishing, extraordinary piece of work, a mesmerising masterpiece and the jewel in Lynch's crown. It is a beautiful, hypnotic, twisted and strange film which draws the viewer inescapably into a unique and fascinating universe of crime, dreams, sex and tragedy. It is, quite simply, the best film of the decade.

As with much of Lynch's work, there is no simple way to describe what Mulholland Drive is about. Lynch himself has always been coy or hesitant to give meaning to his films, leading some to brand him as the Lars von Trier of surrealism. There is a possibility that his whole career is a prank, and behind those kinetic hands and immense head of hair, he is secretly laughing at us. There have been instances in Lynch's career where he has been self-indulgent or excessive, but he is genuine in everything he does, and Mulholland Drive is proof of it.

Hence when we come to identify the themes of the film, and attempt to unlock its symbols, we realise very early on just how many different interpretations there could be. In fact - to go all self-reflexive for a brief moment - writing about Mulholland Drive is emphatic proof of the subjective nature of film; what I write is what I understand to be true, but I must acknowledge even as I write these words that there are many other ways of seeing the same thing. Not since 2001: A Space Odyssey has a film sparked so much dispute and discussion over its meaning and implications, and my piece, however well-constructed or meticulous, cannot give you all the answers. That is the eternal appeal of Lynch, of all great filmmakers, and is one of the great joys of life.

The experience of watching Mulholland Drive echoes the experience of writing about it. It is one of a very rare breed of films which hold you in such a hypnotic state that your normal critical faculties become temporarily suspended. You slowly forget to pay very close attention to the mystery at the heart of the plot, because the sense of mystery is so all-pervading that it engulfs everything. You stop trying to unpick scenes to decipher what they might mean, because they are staged in such an eerie and beautiful way that you simply have to sit transfixed and let them wash over you.

This is not to say that the film doesn't want you to think - on the extreme contrary. Mulholland Drive is a hugely intelligent film, and every shot feeds you with information through its visuals, its dialogue or simply its sense of atmosphere. Angelo Badalamenti's unusual score sends shivers down your spine, and almost every conversation consists of broken dialogue; as in Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks, there is a constant sense of threat and unease, with any reassurance feeling like the opposite. Because there is no natural flow from what one character is saying to the next, you find yourself moving at the pace of the film, waiting on every word they say in the knowledge that it will be significant.

Mulholland Drive is prominently about dreams, specifically the relationship between dreams and reality. There is no straightforward narrative which is easy to follow; to paraphrase Roger Ebert, in dreams the mind only focuses on what fascinates it at that instance in time. It makes no sense to impose something as abstract and heartless as logic onto such a surreal and subtly shifting landscape; to do this would only confuse us further. Instead we simply have to embrace the experience and see where it takes us - we have to dream as the film dreams.

The film has been described as a 'poisonous valentine to Hollywood', since it marries a fleeting celebration of Hollywood and acting to Lynch's continuing themes of darkness and horror lurking not far beneath a beautiful surface. Mulholland Drive takes his thesis of 'small towns with secrets' from Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks, and expands it to an entire city; everyone is part of this world where simultaneously dreams are made and lives are nightmarishly torn apart.

One aspect of the plot is about creativity, self-belief and natural talent struggling against a system where power and connections are everything. The scenes involving Justin Theroux's director being intimidated by the mob are a sly allegory for Lynch's nightmarish experience on Dune. His character goes from defiance to sheepishness and reluctant acceptance; the Cowboy he encounters could either be his conscience or the personification of the system, winning by its old-fashioned combination of muscle and clever talk (or in this case, non sequiturs).

The film is also an examination of the nature of acting, in which characters or identities are created and inhabited for short, disconnected periods of time. This is an illuminating observation, and ties in with the overall theme of dreams and reality.

For the first two hours, we follow Betty Elms, played brilliantly by Naomi Watts. She is an aspiring actress who comes to Hollywood to seek her fortune. At the same time, a woman (Laura Elena Harring) has a car accident which makes her lose her memory; she wanders from the eponymous road through the streets of Hollywood, ending up at the house where Betty is staying. Betty befriends 'Rita' (who takes her name from a poster of Rita Hayworth), helps her find her identity, and the two become lovers.

In the final half-hour, once the blue box has been opened, we find that everything has changed. Watts' character, now called Diane, is a failed actress while Harring's character, now called Camilla, is about to marry a successful director (Theroux). Diane is immensely jealous of Camilla's success and hires someone to kill her. But once the deed is done, she is driven crazy by guilt, regret and a longing for affection, and ends up shooting herself.

The most generally accepted version of events - and the one to which I personally subscribe - is that the initial period is Diane's dream and the last half-hour is the bitter reality. Diane invents the characters of Betty and Rita to escape her grim reality, or re-experience the past. Betty is intelligent, resourceful, confident and destined to be a star - just look at her audition for the film, in which she seduces both us and the film crew. Rita by contrast is pathetic, frightened and vulnerable; she is the perfect means for Betty to satisfy her ego, and their scenes of lovemaking are essentially self-love.

But those who dream cannot dream forever, and many dreams end with cracks of reality begin to break through. In both the 'dream' and 'reality', Camilla Rhodes is the obstruction preventing Diane/ Betty from realising her ambitions: in the 'dream' she is cast in the role she wants (thanks to the will of the mob), and in the 'reality' she is her ex-lover who has grown weary of her charms. The colour blue is another symbol which demonstrates this: the blue box is a passageway between the dream world and the real world, and Betty begins to convulse when the blue lights flash around Club Silencio.

Diane's dream is the ultimate expression of her inability to accept that she is a failure, both professionally and personally. Like the lead character in Sunset Boulevard (which is referenced in the opening minutes) she falls from brief stardom and egomania to obscurity, self-loathing and destruction. She masturbates in a desperate attempt to recapture that sense of ecstatic affection she felt as a star. But soon the ghosts from her past drive her over the edge and she chooses death over another day in her personal hell.

Mulholland Drive is one of the most open-ended, ambiguous, mind-bending and mesmerising films you will ever see. Any attempt to address or summarise the issues it raises will only scratch the surface; there is too much going on in this powerfully hypnotic film to reduce down to pithy one-liners and short paragraphs. Multiple viewings are essential if one is to unlock every puzzle, and each viewing only improves the experience as more ideas come to light and new puzzles emerge to stimulate your mind. It is a truly extraordinary experience, with stunning performances, perfect direction and simply gorgeous visuals, all of which blend together effortlessly into what can only be described as a masterpiece.
July 28, 2013
Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer

An aspiring, fresh-faced young actress new in Hollywood discovers a woman in her appartment who is suffering from amnesia and they attempt to discover who she is using only a few slender clues. David Lynch once again delights and exasperates with this beautiful and always intriguing modern noir. It does not surprise me to discover that this was originally intended to be a TV show, as it reminded me a lot of Lynch's classic series Twin Peaks. It is not as baffling as much of Lynch's work, and although there are shades of Lost Highway in that suddenly the characters seem to become someone else, it does have a coherent narrative that explains all (if you were paying VERY close attention!) Lynch uses his trademark intensity of imagery and sound to create an otherwordly feeling, but it is not as sinister as some of his other work and so it's rather more accessible. In fact, the first two acts of the film do seem like just another post-Tarantino mystery thriller, but the finale of the film is quite astonishing. Another stylish and seductive headf*** from the master of the macabre.
January 10, 2013
garyX
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

While you watch it, the plot is not very difficult to follow, thanks to the surprising clarity in which the narrative is displayed. But hold on.... If you even try to put the pieces together and create an idea of what exactly happened, that's where Lynch's work gains its reputation for being bafflingly confusing, nonsensical, and feverishly brilliant.
December 15, 2012
Kevin Cookman

Super Reviewer

    1. Cowboy: A man's attitude... a man's attitude goes some ways. The way his life will be. Is that somethin' you agree with?
    2. Adam Kesher: Sure.
    3. Cowboy: Now... did you answer cause you thought that's what I wanted to hear, or did you think about what I said and answer cause you truly believe that to be right?
    4. Adam Kesher: I agree with what you said, truthfully.
    5. Cowboy: What'd I say?
    6. Adam Kesher: Uh... that a man's attitude determines, to a large extent, how his life will be.
    7. Cowboy: So since you agree, you must be someone who does not care about the good life.
    – Submitted by Hriya M (24 months ago)
    1. Adam Kesher: This is the girl.
    – Submitted by Deborah C (2 years ago)
    1. Coco Lenoix: You know, there was a man that lived here once that had a prize-fighting kangaroo. Well, you just wouldn't believe what that kangaroo did to this courtyard!
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
    1. Cowboy: When you see the girl in the picture that was shown to you earlier today, you will say, "this is the girl". The rest of the cast can stay, that's up to you. But that lead girl is "not" up to you. Now you will see me one more time, if you do good. You will see me, two more times, if you do bad. Good night.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
    1. Cowboy: When you see the girl in the picture that was shown to you earlier today, you will say, "this is the girl". The rest of the cast can stay, that's up to you. But that lead girl is "not" up to you. Now you will see me one more time, if you do good. You will see me, two more times, if you do bad. Good night.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
View all quotes (5)

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