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Mulholland Dr.

Mulholland Dr. is a 2001 film by director/writer David Lynch.

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The "Gordian Knot" of cinema.

  • Apr 22, 2002
  • by
Without fail, it seems those who see Mulholland Drive have a knee-jerk reaction in one of two ways: (a) they think it's pointless and stupid and weird and they're completely baffled by it, or (b) they become entranced and absorbed...and they're completely baffled by it.

The first time I saw this movie, I was in the (b) category. I couldn't explain it, I couldn't put it together, but I loved it. It begins with two story threads that are ostensibly unrelated. In one, a woman called "Rita" has lost her memory and -- with the help of a bold, aspiring actress named Betty -- tries to find out who she is. In the other, there appears to be a mysterious operation in Hollywood surrounding the casting process of a young director's latest movie. A number of weird scenes are interspersed amidst these two plot threads and seemingly have nothing to do with anything. In the final half hour, the movie's world is twisted around and by the time it ends, the viewer will probably be left scratching his head. Less patient viewers will probably start swearing like drunken sailors and break something (or maybe go watch Independence Day).

I was completely enthralled by every second of this film, but I needed to wait for the DVD before I could see it again and begin to try and understand it. I've seen it several times now and while I'm not much closer to understanding it, I love it just the same. I've read a number of interpretations of this movie that suggest anything from "it's all a dream" to "it's about how Hollywood corrupts" to "IT MAKES NO SENSE." At the time of this writing, I've just watched it for the fourth time, and I must assert that there is a certain purpose behind everything, even the scenes which are the weirdest of weird. However, I cannot come up with a comprehensive understanding of this movie that elucidates _all_ its different elements. On one hand, the entire experience seems remarkably dream-like, almost a cinematic montage of self-contained, powerful episodes with a tenuous relationship to other scenes. On the other hand, though the movie appears to be sundered into two distinct parts, there is a definite connection to be made. A very fun movie to explore.

Naomi Watts' performance (as Betty) is absolutely stunning. If Halle Barry hadn't been so good in Monster's Ball, I'd have said Miss Watts deserved the Oscar for Best Actress in 2001 (I don't even know if she was nominated...but the Oscars are dumb anyway). Think carefully about Betty's acting audition...it's one of the theme's pillars.

Can you "cut the Gordian knot" of Mulholland Drive? In other words, can anyone solve the puzzle of this movie? I'm honestly not sure anyone can -- there's a 5000+ word analysis out there on the Internet that is quite great, but even it can't account for everything. There may not be a complete answer at all. Maybe this movie just resists sound reasoning entirely. But it sure is great.

The bottom line? Watch the movie, I guess. You might think it's the dumbest film ever made, or get consumed by the mystery of it all.

The DVD itself is pretty weak feature-wise. No scene selection, for one thing, which is pretty much inexcusable. It's made so much worse for the fact that there are a number of very poignant scenes that just beg repeated viewings. Other than that, you get the obligatory DVD features with no appreciable extras. Bummer.

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June 01, 2011
Great review and I agree with many of your observations. It's interesting how people either reject this film because they don't understand it and it makes them feel stupid or they love the film because they don't understand it but it's like a riddle that they have to unravel. Some films are defined by their stories, their characters, their visual content. Lynch's films seem to be defined by themes and atmosphere more than anything, although they are rich in other elements as well. I'd love to read your interpretation on the greater meaning (if there is one) of the film.
More Mulholland Dr. reviews
review by . October 07, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****    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; …
Quick Tip by . June 12, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
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 …
Quick Tip by . June 10, 2011
It feels like a cyclical exercise during a first viewing by calculated intent, but it isn't. Mulholland's narrative relies on and refreshes one of the oldest, most clichéd tricks of storytelling. Once you realize what's happening, you'll understand that Lynch took an ancient idea and breathed new life into it with a presentation of uncommon verisimilitude. In its own way, it's every bit as great as Blue Velvet.
review by . December 17, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Key to the past?
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 …
review by . June 21, 2005
Originally filmed in 1999 as a TV pilot, "Mulholland Dr." was rejected. The next year, David Lynch received money to film new scenes to make the movie suitable to be shown in theaters. He did so - and created one of the greatest, most bizarre and nightmarish films ever made.    The film really doesn't have main characters, but if there were main characters, they would be Betty (Naomi Watts) and Rita (Laura Elena Harring). Betty is a perky blonde who's staying in her aunt's apartment …
review by . February 29, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
David Lynch has crafted a very clever thriller that's so unusually sequenced that you are thoroughly confused at the end of watching the film. The DVD has minimal bonus material and no commentary. It does provide some clues in the DVD liner to help you figure out what the meaning of everything in the movie is and the sequence of what actually happened. This is a truly challenging thriller that has a lot of darkness and foreboding. There are some lesbian sex scenes and a very impressive performance …
review by . July 03, 2002
Ed Gonzalez of Slant Magazine says it best, "Lynch's Mulholland Drive is...a haunting, selfish masterpiece that literalizes the theory of surrealism as perpetual dream-state."Amazingly, Mulholland Drive was originally a pilot for an ABC TV series that never got picked up. What a series it could have been! Viewers would have been scratching their heads from week to week and still kept coming back for more. ABC deemed it too controversal, and lacked some all-around faith. It seem's the censor's are …
review by . April 17, 2002
David Lynch is his own man and he is unafraid to put out films that are untouched reruns of his own wild imagination. MULHOLLAND DRIVE drives some people crazy because of their need for absolute resolution of stories. This little gem of a film is more like a carefully staged stream of consciousness and if you can't jump on the ride then you're missing the joy. Lynch has captured fine performances from a strong cast, explores terrain rich and strange, and even goes over the edge just enough to test …
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Clayton Reeder ()
Ranked #434
Rogue capitalist in search of all that is interesting, weird, or beautiful.      Collected here are my hundreds of reviews from Amazon.com, covering mostly music that is offensive … more
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About this movie


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
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Movies, Drama Movies, Action Movies, David Lynch, David Lynch Films, David Lynch Movies


Director: David Lynch
Genre: Drama, Gay & Lesbian, Mystery, Thriller
Release Date: October 8, 2001
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: David Lynch
DVD Release Date: April 9, 2002
Runtime: 147 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios
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