Mulholland Drive Reviews
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.
I think I will choose Kubrick more for this reason, but no matter how nuts Lynch's films drive me, I'm always willing to give him the benefit of the doubt because there's always at least one thing going on inhis films that I like, or because we need someone like him, because we need films like his. I don't think I could truly hate a Lynch movie, which is why if you look and see what ratings I've given to his movies, you'll notice I always give them at least a mild pass.
The film can kinda be summed up as a neo-noir mystery thriller, but there's more to it than that. There's some self aware elements and jokes, and I got the idea that this was a satire to an extent of Hollywood and the creative porcess. A main storyline is that of an aspiring axtress helping an amnesiac woman try to find out her identity after a car crash, a crash which it turns out saved her from being murdered. A director character is getting hampered by all sorts of forces, namely shady mob types, and all of this ties into the amnesia story. Truth is, I don't truly know if I know what's going on. All I'm saying is just bits of what I've read others say, as well as some of my own observations. Honestly though, I don't know if I really want to know the truth behind this movie or what the hell really is going on.
No one will ever say that Lynch's films don't have a great sense of mood, tone, and atmosphere, one that's almost always unnevering and distressing to boot. That's kinda why this film works. It has a dark, mysterious charm to it, and it seems like it would not be as effective if a definite answer were reached. It's like the old saying about how the journey is more important than the destination. Don't watch this movie for plot so much as for the experience of just siting through what it has to offer.
I will say that, especially during the first half, the acting and dialogue bothered me. I'm not sure if it was intentional, but it all came off as really bad, stilted, and wooden. It got better, though. Maybe it'll not seem that way on repeated viewings? I do think the performers, especially Watts, had a tough job to do here, and they do pull it off. For me though, the real fun was seeing Billy Ray Cyrus show up briefly as a pool poy and Mark Pellegrino play a wonderfully inept and bungling hit man. There's plenty of subtle humor going on, but these two definitely bring on the more overt (and needed) humor.
If you're new to Lynch, I'm not sure if this is a good place to start, but if you want a wild, surreal, and wonderfully artistic head trip to sit through, do give this one a chance.
Mulholland Drive feels like a dream (or nightmare?) and deserves a second viewing on my part. I will get to that when I have the time but, right now, I just want to praise David Lynch for taking risks, and making a weird, but incredibly appealing and memorable movie; Naomi Watts for her perfect portrayal of Betty/Diane, definitely the best performance of her career, and Rebekah del Rio for that amazing, unforgettable, gorgeous, creepy, mind-fuck scene!
* Will definitely update after second viewing.
An aspiring actress from out of town (Naomi Watts), a film director suffering from a series of bad luck (Justin Theroux), and a mysterious woman with a purse full of money, amnesia from an accident, and people searching for her (Laura Elena Harring), all intersect in Los Angeles. But something seem odd. Off. Strange. What's going on, and how are these people connected?
Naomi Watts is my favorite actress, so there's absolutely no excuse for it to have taken so long for me to see this movie. Especially considering how fantastic Mulholland Drive is, and how great she is in it. From the very beginning, you have no idea what's going on. Strange things occur, and you're left wondering what in the heck is happening and who these people are. But the ambiguity never becomes frustrating. It only serves to make you more and more eager to continue on and see what everything is leading to. I literally said out loud at least three times, "I have no idea what's going on, but this is awesome." It's been a while since a movie has caught my attention so strongly from the very beginning and held it to the very end.
Despite my adoration for Mulholland Drive, I'm vaguely aware of the fact that some people might find this movie "too weird". As I mentioned before, you're given a lot of scenes without the initial context to make sense of them, and I know that can annoy some people. The film is also quite surreal, at times, and while I may have found that scenes like those at the corral and Club Silencio (and really the entire last half-hour) to be incredible, I can (sort of) understand that they may be just flat out odd to some folks. So be warned, this movie is DIFFERENT. And yes, the all-caps really is necessary. If you only like your movies literal and straight-forward, do yourself a favor and choose a different movie.
I don't hand out ratings this high very often, but Mulholland Drive leaves me no choice. It's was so unexpectedly and unconventionally amazing (especially if it's your first David Lynch film, as it was for me), that I have no doubts that it's one of the best movies I've ever seen. It's startling, mesmerizing, and it'll bend your mind so far that it may never snap back to its original shape. I've seen nothing else like it. I'll admit that I can't help but wonder what the story would have been like without the hard left turn 2/3's of the way through (otherwise you'd be looking at a perfect rating), but this movie is a gem.
okay, the reality of mulholland drive would be an oscure starlet hooked with a bisexual mega star in hollywood, and the mega star deserts the starlet for a powerful male director and another new starlet for her wild lesbian redenzvou..so the heartbroken starlet slumbers her way for three weeks picturing some soothing fantasies to ease off harsh truth of her life: in her dreamworld, she's the sunny supernova-to-be called betty, who encounters a mysterious female stranger who names herself rita after the poster of rita hayworth's gilda (who also resembles the mega star). somehow betty's acting career is blossoming and rita's enigmatic helplessness sorta entinces her sense of chivalry..so rita gratefully returns betty's chivalry with a steamy lesbian sex despite rita never responds betty's love when she utters "i fall in love with you" (just like the femme fatale would always neglect the sap's lovemaking meanwhile manipulating the sap)...her rival, the male director, becomes a pathetic wimp who gets beaten up and humiliated by his wife's cuckold. the mega star's new girl flame takes the mega star's identity so she could be left alone with her beloved in a detached dimension for their intimate liaisons. in her illusionary universe, her lover's identity turns into an obliterated re-embodiment of sheer seduction just like rita hayworth in gilda, the goddess of love and nothing more, and later on rita wears the blonde wig just like betty, that is the wishful autoeroticism which constantly appears in homosexuality. (wouldn't it be even more provocative to make love with your semi-colone for some change of sceneries?) within her dreams, rita is at her disposal as she could request her to come toward her bed naked and re-mould her hairstyle, but in the same time she stays under control of everything with rita...but due to the sense of self-loathe, the protagonist's identity is also sealed around some corner where a dead woman named diane rotting in her reclusive bungalow, and she innovates the name "betty" from a waitress' name-tag in some cafeteria. and the senile couple who greets her entrance into hollywood transform into fiendish demons whose malicious laughters drive the protagonist into suicide in the end of the movie. generally, the movie shifts into the sequence of reality after the blonde rita opens the blue box with a hidden key inside her purse. blatant metaphor for the pandera's box, huh?
simply put , the real diane is decaying into a stinky walking-dead while diane's dream-self betty is rollercoasting her hollywood dream with the ravishing "rita"...the protagonist wishes to shed off the bitterness and pain within the character diane so she imagines herself as the brightful betty for some escapic fun in the last few hours of her life before she blows off her head in oblivion like kurt cobain. perhaps in a way, "mulholland drive" is lesbianistically masturbatory just like a man who envisions some grand bombshell who's willingly obedient to gratify his pride and libido in life as well as in bed for some rapturuous fun of consolatory ejection. (am i being obscene? haha).. just like lynch's 1997 "lost highway", he tackles into the psyche of the betrayed, the cuckolded, and their compensatory fantasies to redeem the last slice of their remaining self-esteem which has been devastated and smeared off by the contemptuosuly insouciant femme fatale.
(ps) the formuli of the labyrinth of lynchian noir would be: 1. the protagonist obliterates his own identify for self-loathe (the man in lost highway gets sentenced into electric chair to be re-born) 2. the vertigo dichotomy: the woman must change her identity for the protagonist to re-liven his obsession again, the chaning of hair color is a frequent case. 3. the woman is benevolent by fancy but malevolent by reality (typical case, the man tragically falls into love with a beautiful woman who doesn't love him) 4. hommage to the 50s symbols like the swinger sequence in the beginning of mulholland drive. 5. the protagonist resorts to self-destruction after awakening from a slumbering dream.
basically, the archetype of stories is not hard and actually quite routined. it's the labyrinth of mixed distinction of reality and dream savors up everything and some cinematographic virtuosity dubs the scenes with a highly artistic tasteful look.