Mulholland Drive (2001)
Director: David Lynch
Laura Harring/ Camilla
Camilla (Harring) wakes up from a nasty car crash with her memory erased. She hides out in a deserted house but doesn’t remain alone for long. Small town girl Betty (Watts) arrives in Hollywood from Canada and takes up residence at the same house in which Camilla is hiding. It happens to be Betty’s aunt’s place. Both women become friends (and more) and try to figure out Camilla’s identity. Did I forget to mention that an inept hitman, a hairy beast, a midget mob boss, a creepy Cowboy and miniature smiling senior citizens are also in the film? I guess I did. Welcome to the warped mind of David Lynch.
Coming out of "Mulholland Drive", I had a big smile on my face. I turned to my hombre JoBlo and the first thing that came out of my mouth was: “Godamn Lynch, did it again”! Call me masochistic but I love Lynch’s mindfuck movies. I followed "Twin Peaks" religiously, worshipped "Blue Velvet" and fell in love with "Lost Highway". If you’re fond of any of the titles I just mentioned, then Mulholland Drive might be for you.
After the straight “The Straight Story”, Lynch goes back to his more familiar off-beat feel to offer us this dark, poetic tale of love and regret between two women. Before I go on, let me give you a back-story about the film. "Mulholland Drive" was initially shot to be a TV pilot for ABC. When the pilot was dropped (surprise, surprise), Lynch went and re-shot 26 minutes of new footage to make it a full feature. Then “Studio Canal” had Lynch shoot 6 additional minutes to add to the theatrical version (I assume the sizzling sex scenes).
So the film plays out like this: the first 2 hours of the film are pretty straightforward for a Lynch film. They’re like an odd film noir with a mystery to solve. Don’t get me wrong they’re still shot in Lynch’s unorthodox, sumptuous fashion. We still get that heavy feel of impending doom that’s so prominent in many Lynch films, the side characters are pretty much all quirky, some scenes ooze with uncomfortable tension, a kool 50’s vibe is tossed into the mix and some of the situations are hilarious in classic Lynch humor. But for me, the difference in regards to Lynch’s usual work was that I understood everything that was happening.
But when Lynch let the other shoe drop with the extra 26 minutes, he totally fucking lost me and I loved every single second of it. Now you can interpret what happened in so many ways so I won't boggle this review by trying to explain it. But I will say that “Doppelgangers” pop out, miniature seniors run amuck and the weirdness level jacks up 5 notches. The answers I was expecting in respect to the mystery which the first two hours set up, didn’t come (or maybe they did but I just didn’t piece it together). Instead of a resolution, I got a surreal puzzle of identity and circumstances.
Once the flick was over, JoBlo, some friends and I discussed it for a while. When I got home, I came to this conclusion: this film is not meant to be understood; it plays out like an eerie dream and should be appreciated on that level. Just because the story doesn’t follow the standard mold doesn’t mean that I didn’t get anything off it, “au contraire”. I still warmed up to the themes of the film and the characters. I still got wrapped in the drama and got moved by certain scenes (the Italian rendition of Roy Orbison’s “Crying” was beautiful). I still laughed at the humor (that “actor” meeting was hilarious) and got way aroused by the steamy sex scenes (those lesbian scenes were hot). And I still felt fear in the pit of my belly (all about the back of that Denny’s-style restaurant) and got spellbound by the beautiful images Lynch slapped my way.
So I didn’t get any clean-cut answers. So what! I was still fascinated and touched by the film. Even now that it’s over, I’m still thinking about it. How many “standard” movies can claim to accomplish that? Nobody expresses himself through film like Lynch does. Nobody has the rhythm, the knack at symbolism or the gusto that he does. If you’ve relished Lynch’s vision before than you will likely enjoy this poem in motion as well. It’s Lynch at the top of his game with one of his best efforts ever. Will you take that walk down Mulholland Drive?
No gore here but we still get some scary situations. What was that hairy beast all about? Brrr…
Naomi Watts (Betty) gives a solid show here and was my favorite performer. Her “audition” scene alone is one for the books. I want to see more of her. Laura Harring (Camilla) also comes through and her knockout body served her character well. Justin Theroux (Adam) made me crack up as the golfclub-swinging director. Dan Hedaya (Vincenzo) and Angelo Badalamenti (Luigi) had me on the floor in their key scene in the meeting room. Funny shite! Billy Ray Cyrus (Wilkins) also had me laughing, he should stick to acting, he’s a better actor than he is a singer. Robert Forster (Detective) shows up briefly. I still don’t know why his name is in the credits. His role is so small.
T & A
It’s a boyz night tonight! Both Naomi Watts (Betty) and Laura Harring (Camilla) show off their breasts and they also have steamy sex scenes together. Sizzling hot, yo!
Lynch goes all out here. I loved the overhead shots that he took of the city, Hollywood never looked so dreamy. Everything is bathed in bluish, reddish lights and that amplified the dream-like qualities of the images. Lynch also offers us some blurry shots, some extreme close ups, some slow and steady camera movements that accentuate tension, some stressful background rumbling sounds (I love those) and he sure knows how to shoot a street sign. I love that flickering light thang! This film is a visual masterpiece.
Lynch regular Angelo Badalamenti puts out another somber, moody and exquisite score. Wow!
If you need a fast pace, a clear sense of understanding or a sense of closure to appreciate a film, then stay away from this “Drive” like the plague. Don’t even look at the poster! But if like me, you love Lynch’s previous work, are able to get moved by strong characters, images, sounds, symbolism or music, then hop in the Lynch mobile and head for Mulholland Drive…it’s a crazy and fascinating place.
The TV pilot ended where Rita (Harring) opens the mysterious blue box.
Composer Angelo Badalamenti has a hilarious cameo in the film.
Naomi Watts (Betty) played the lead in "Children Of The Corn 4: Deadly Harvest".