Rated R - Running Time: 2:26 - Released 10/19/01
It is altogether fitting that Mulholland Drive debuted at my local theatre on November 30, on the day of the second full moon of the month, because only once in a blue moon does a movie like this come along. Written, directed, and produced by David Lynch, who has given us such freaky mind-benders as Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks, this movie is what Eyes Wide Shut and The Cell both wanted to be. Combining the excellent performances of a varied and sometimes surprising cast with Lynch's wildly conceptual cinematic art, Mulholland Drive tells a circular story that twists and turns and doubles back on itself and sometimes even switches actors around between parts. The result is 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.
Although explaining the plot of this movie is like trying to
describe the nature of existence using only hand motions, it begins
with two young women: Betty Elms (Naomi Watts), a talented but
innocent young actress who has just moved to Hollywood to seek
her fortune, and "Rita" (Laura Harring), who only takes
the name "Rita" because she is suffering from anmesia
after receiving a concussion in a car accident. They meet when
Betty arrives at her vacationing aunt's empty apartment where
she's going to stay until she finds her own place. Rita is there,
having found her way in after the aunt left town. Betty thinks
at first that she is a family friend, but when she learns the
truth, she agrees to help Rita try to find out her true identity.
As the women get to know each other, their friendship grows
into something more intimate. In between Betty's auditions, where
she meets a young director (Justin Theroux) who will figure significantly
into Rita's story, she accompanies the confused girl on her quest
to find out who she is. As they begin investigating possible leads,
they discover a woman named Diane Selwyn (Missy Crider), whom
Rita apparently knew before the accident. That is, they discover
Diane's body. And with that discovery begins a chain of events
that unravel the very fabric of time and space, reality and fantasy,
waking and dreams, rendering our two co-protagonists as alter-egos
of themselves, or perhaps mere figments in the mind of another.
That's all I'm going to say, although that barely begins to scratch
This film, which Lynch originally produced as a pilot for a
television series that was rejected for being too dark, went on
to win Lynch the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival.
Pushing the envelope of ingenuity the way Being
John Malkovich did, it forces the viewer to unravel many
barely explained nuances of theme and character. I mean, you practically
need a sliderule to figure this thing out. But besides being compelling
in its complexity, it contains some amazingly real performances
and hauntingly creepy plot devices, boasting everything from casual
murder to supernatural whimsy to lesbian sex to hiccups in the
space/time continuum. In addition to Watts, who won Movieline's
inaugural "Breakthrough of the Year" award for her work,
and Mexican-born former Miss USA Harring, who puts forth a performance
no less compelling, it features a multitude of fascinating supporting
parts and some surprising casting choices, like Ann Miller, Billy
Ray Cyrus (of "Achy Breaky Heart" fame), and Chad Everett.
Added to their varied and surprising performances, Peter Deming's
cinematography and Angelo Badalamenti's compelling musical score
add significant depth.
You should definitely see this film if you're interested in the art of cinema, but you're going to have to buy the DVD if you really want to understand it. *****