Mulholland Drive

Review Date:
Director: David Lynch
Writer: David Lynch
Producers: Mary Sweeney, Alain Sarde
Naomi Watts as Betty/Diane, Laura Harring as Rita/Camilla, Justin Theroux as Adam Kesher
This is a story of a young girl who comes to Hollywood and…oh man, who am I kidding? I have no idea what this movie is about, but it does involve a couple of good-looking babes, one blonde, the other brunette, some loss of memory (or not), a murder (or not) and a dwarf connected to the mob??? I don’t know…if you could make perfect “heads and tails” of this story, please send me an email, so that I could sleep better at nights…
Director David Lynch isn’t a regular filmmaker. His films are like paintings: they’re interpretative, they’re extremely subjective, they’re masterpieces to some and garbage to others, and this movie is no different. A lot like Salvador Dali’s paintings, Lynch tries to mingle reality with surreal images and thoughts, giving the audience a little bit of the outline of his stories, along with a lot of confusion and plenty of mystery. I’ve always been on the fence with Lynch’s overall repertoire of films, I thought LOST HIGHWAY and BLUE VELVET were genius but hated the piss out of TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME and ERASERHEAD, but always admired the courageous bastard for having the cajones to try different things in film and mix things up a little. Well, if you’re looking for an ideal film to “mix you up”, look no further than this very bizarre trip. The film is actually cut into three parts for the uninitiated (it was originally shot as a TV “pilot” episode for ABC, but got turned down after the execs deemed it too “weird”). Duh! Anyway, the first 2/3 of the film are pretty straight-forward, a little bit of mystery, a little bit of crime, Hollywood, amnesia, a girl with big dreams…stuff that you could hold in your hand and touch…feel…understand, to a certain extent.

But as soon as two ladies start making out together (you can’t miss it, it’s one of the hottest scenes that I’ve witnessed in the theatres this year), things aren’t “real” anymore, you don’t really “understand” anything anymore, and the only thing that you can do is sit back, relax, tune into your cerebral cortex and attempt to decipher the images, sounds and ideas that Lynch tosses into his sick, twisted puzzle. Will you be able to figure it out? Will you care? Would you rather just stop watching when things stop making sense and douse your head in popcorn? Is it even supposed to make any sense? These are questions that only you will be able to answer, but I tried with all my might to figure out this brain-teaser, but to no immediate avail. Sure, the boys and I discussed several theories about the movie afterwards, but did any of them really seal the entire deal? No way! A lot like LOST HIGHWAY in that sense (although less involving and personal for me), this is the kind of movie that isn’t to be taken on a surface level. You gotta dig way beneath the surface and introduce dream elements into your equation, dual identity possibilities, time line variations, memory lapses and anything that you think might help you in figuring this movie out.

Of course, much like any painting, some people are going to watch this movie, see little more than pretension and a showy director indulging his own personal fantasies on the big screen, while others will jump aboard and hail the man and his film as “avante-garde”, abrasive cinematic art at its finest and the greatest thing since square watermelons. In the end, the way that you interpret this movie is going to depend on how much you decide to involve yourself in the process, and a lot like MEMENTO, the outcome can be extremely satisfying if you decide to play along with the film, as much as it plays with you. On the other hand, if you like your movies straight and to the point, with very few questions left unanswered when the credits come crawling down the final “fade to black”, forget about ever seeing this movie, it ain’t for you and don’t say that I didn’t warn you. Lynch, I wanted to strangle you when this movie finished, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there might’ve been some twisted sense to the madness, and for that, I gotta give you your props (I actually started with a rating of 6/10 and moved up consistently). And God knows I’m gonna have nightmares about that creepy “Cowboy”…brrrrr!

Oops, I almost forgot to mention any of the “technical” aspects from the film, which are top-notch across the board. As usual, Lynch is a pro with the camera, playing tricks as only he can and scaring the beejezus out of you, as he moves it slowly around every corner. Badalamenti’s score was also amazing as the backdrop of this sorted tale, with a palpable resonance of dread throughout. And the actors were all rock-solid, especially the two leads, Watts and Harring, who mesmerized you in their world, even when things got completely over-the-top and illogical. And yes, I also want to thank Lynch and the ladies personally, for all that lesbian action. Yeah, yeah…I know it wasn’t supposed to be gratuitous or anything, but for whatever it was…great shtuff! There were also a handful of memorable Lynchian scenes, my favorite being the one featuring the young director sitting in a room with the studio execs. Hilarious.

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian