After one has seen David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive", the word "Silencio" has become one of the most haunting words in cinema since those spoken by Marlon Brando ("The horror...the horror") in "Apocalypse Now". It might be an irrelevant comparison overall, but both are films that linger in the corners of our minds. Both are less than conventional even if Lynch exists more on his own terms than Francis Ford Coppola ever did (although he is a fine filmmaker; his films can be enjoyed by pretty much all audiences with an attention span). He continues to surprise me as an artist; his films may all contain similar traits, but not one of them is truly "similar" to another. Lynch has enough feelings and images inside of him to inspire a respectable filmography; and so they have.
A black car drives along a winding highway not too far from Los Angeles carrying a mysterious yet beautiful dark-haired woman (Laura Harring). The driver pulls a gun on her and orders her to step out of the car. She seems confused to just what is going on, although it's not until some kids crash into their vehicle with their own and leave everyone but her for dead that we realize how normal things were before. She, still unnamed, walks into the darkness and finds her way to the city. She rests up at a random house. The next day, she is discovered while showering by the occupant of the apartment that she has stumbled to. That person is Betty (Naomi Watts), the daughter of an actress (who owns the apartment but is away on business) who aspires to follow in her mother's footsteps.
The black-haired woman, who identifies herself as Rita after seeing a poster for Hayworth's "Gilda" hanging in the bathroom, is an amnesiac. She can't remember who she really is. She and Betty look for clues in her purse but find only a blue key and a shit-load of money. They hide both of these things in a container that rests in the closet. The two are then engaged in a sort of relationship that keeps getting weirder and weirder; in part because it's so often interrupted by what seem like little vignettes in between, one involving a Hollywood director (Justin Theroux) and his partnership with a pair of mobster brothers (one of whom cannot be pleased by a cup of espresso) who apparently own the next movie he's making, insisting that he cast a woman named Camilla Rhodes.
For the most part, the film balances these two stories; although there are even smaller ones that fit themselves in there somehow as well. For instance, there's an early scene set at the diner called Winkies in which a young man describes to his older colleague a dream that he had involving a frightening man in the back of the diner, which becomes a sort of nightmarish reality by the end of the scene. And then there's a sub-plot involving an amateur hitman who may or may not have ties to the car crash at the beginning of the film. And then there's the Cowboy. It's confusing even for a David Lynch film but better because of it. The labyrinth-like structure of the narrative, which I assure you forms a coherent whole by the end but only if you pay attention and watch it more than once, is appealing to me.
Certain plot details are vital to how you interpret "Mulholland Drive". As usual, Lynch encourages each individual viewer to think for themselves; thus interpretation is key to the enjoyment of the film. Betty and Rita get tangled up in a romantic, sexual relationship somewhere within the last hour; and this is one element that plays a significant role in how I view the film. There's a common theory floating around that Rita is some sort of dream projection of the sort of person Betty would like to be, and that the film itself is all a dream. By the time it was over on my second viewing, I knew that was the theory I'd adopt. I also view it as a satire of this generation's cerebral dreams of fame and fortune; the Betty character is all that materialized into one silly blonde. Watts' performance is uncanny and over-the-top; although in the last act, surprisingly intense as well.
For someone to truly hate the film, I think it would either take too much thought or too little. I didn't allow myself to think too much into "Mulholland Drive" since I'd seen Lynch films before, and so I knew that you simply can't understand everything he puts on screen. You just have to kind of go with it, which is easy for me to do when a director is so passionately emotive and gifted in setting up an atmosphere with unforgettable imagery. "Mulholland Drive" has so much of that. Take, for instance, the employer of the mobster brothers who sits in a wheelchair in a dark room illuminated only by a single light (which shines on him) and talks through a microphone that connects to the inside of a glass cage of sorts, where the employees can speak to him through. And then there's the Rebekah Del Rio scene, which is just sublime. Finally, you've got a superb Angelo Badalamenti score to complete the ambience.
I love David Lynch's technique because he makes films so unconventional, surreal, and beautiful that they cannot be summarized as easily as most films. Is "Mulholland Drive" a mystery? Perhaps, we don't know for sure. Like everything else in the picture, it all depends on how you're seeing it. Either way, Lynch puts YOU in the role of detective and to me, that's more fun than anything else. His images and emotions are so resonant that the viewer - depending on what kind you are - has no problem with what Lynch is asking us to do. This is clearly one of his most multi-dimensional and personal films; a stunning evocation of present day LA and the different vibes that Lynch got, and still gets, from the place that he calls home. If its goal is to be chaotic, destructive, dream-like, disturbing, funny, and ultimately mind-boggling; then it's done the city justice.
I'll admit that this is my first time watching a David Lynch film, but Mulholland Dr. blew me away. While this film certainly benefits in having an edge-to-your-seat gripping storyline and compelling characters, the ultimate strength in this film lies in Lynch's refusal to explain the movie, which allows us to create our own ways of fleshing out what really happens and what the film really means. The only thing that may turn off … more
In 2001, David Lynch (director of Dune and creator of Twin Peaks) released a complex mystery film that defied the genre rules and mystified audiences. So what's it all about? The film stars Naomi Watts, in an outstanding performance, as a seemingly naïve and innocent young actress who stumbles upon a car crash victim with amnesia, played by Laura Elena Harring. The two befriend one another and begin to search for clues to the haunted woman's … more
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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Pandora couldn't resist opening the forbidden box containing all the delusions of mankind, and let's just say David Lynch, in Mulholland Drive, indulges a similar impulse. Employing a familiar film noir atmosphere to unravel, as he coyly puts it, "a love story in the city of dreams," Lynch establishes a foreboding but playful narrative in the film's first half before subsuming all of Los Angeles and its corrupt ambitions into his voyeuristic universe of desire. Identities exchange, amnesia proliferates, and nightmare visions are induced, but not before we've become enthralled by the film's two main characters: the dazed and sullen femme fatale, Rita (Laura Elena Harring), and the pert blonde just-arrived from Ontario (played exquisitely by Naomi Watts) who decides to help Rita regain her memory. Triggered by a rapturous Spanish-language version of Roy Orbison's "Crying," Lynch's best film since Blue Velvet splits glowingly into two equally compelling parts.--Fionn Meade