Wednesday 24 April 2019

Movie Review: Mulholland Drive (2001)

A Hollywood mystery, Mulholland Drive throws plenty of style and inconsequential abstractions at the screen.

In Hollywood, an unknown woman who later adopts the name Rita (Laura Elena Harring) survives an abduction and a car crash along Mulholland Drive, but loses her memory. She takes refuge in a temporarily empty apartment, where soon the perky Betty (Naomi Watts) arrives, a newcomer to town intent on starting her Hollywood career.

Film director Adam (Justin Theroux) is having a bad day. He is forced by shadowy financiers to cast an actress he does not know as the lead in his new movie, then he catches his wife cheating with the poolman and is thrown out of his own home.

Meanwhile, Rita and Betty become friends, and find a large amount of cash and a mysterious blue key in Rita's handbag. She starts having memory flashes, which lead the pair to a grisly discovery. Betty also nails her first audition, and briefly meets Adam. But Rita and Betty's troubles are just starting, and two other women called Diane and Camilla will enter the picture.

A rejected television pilot expanded into an incomprehensible mess of a feature film, Mulholland Drive is two thirds of a decent movie. Director and writer David Lynch conjures up a Hollywood dream/nightmare combination in the story of naive but talented Betty meeting the dark and damaged Rita. The initial 90 minutes, while containing plenty of dead-ends, abandoned incidents and characters meant to be developed later in the television series, offers plenty of promise, despite the cheap amnesia plot device.

Beyond the bounds of the rejected material, Lynch slaps on a further 45 minutes of dream-like, barely coherent concepts, and takes Mulholland Drive to the land of impenetrable theory where any explanation goes and none are satisfactory. The carefully constructed plot is all but abandoned, actresses Naomi Watts and Laura Elena Harring take on new roles, and the movie wanders off into mythology of its own making.

The parts of the film that make sense are infused with a smooth vibe and play on the metaphor of Hollywood as a field of dreams with a dark underbelly. The less coherent portions are all about the distorted haze of broken dreams, shattered promises and betrayal most foul. While there is some fun to be had in kicking around diverse interpretations, the totality of the film is disrespectful in its cavalier attitude towards its own characters and events.

By the end of the seemingly endless 146 minutes the pieces of Mulholland Drive lie scattered on the boulevard of broken dreams. The puzzle can be assembled into any number of pictures, but they are all distorted by bumptious storytelling.

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  1. How do you like Lynch´s movies in general? I love them almost all (with an exception of Inland Empire) and this one especially I consider to be Lynch´s masterpiece - like a whole package where is everything from something what Lynch has made in his career. I love the atmosphere of this film, its dangerous and mysterious mood which is absolutely unique. I love every single scene of this film - they´re all little movies in one big puzzle, I escpecially love the scene where Adam meets Cowboy - it scares the shit, I love scene with brothers Castiglianis, where Angelo Badalamenti tastes Coffee, it has such brilliant impact - scary and humorous at the same time and I love the singing audition, all the strange looks when Naomi Watts looks at Justin Theroux and It is so suspensful and mysterious and so on...It´s just pure pleasure to watch this film and I´ve always been scared shitless in the end, where these two seniors become bigger and bigger until She shoots herself - this is the most horror scene I ever seen. Well for me MD is absolute masterpiece, One of the best films ever.

    1. I know this film has a lot of fans and it was voted among the best films of the 21st century so far. I personally did not connect with it, although I appreciated the attempts at style and mystery. I completely lost interest during the final 45 minutes, which I found to be a clear patch-on job. My overall reaction was "the Emperor has no clothes", because it's just too easy to camouflage half-baked ideas (meant to create viewing hooks in a tv series) as brilliantly abstract, and at some point the abstraction becomes disrespectful. I found the better parts intriguing, but I never found any of it remotely scary.

      I've seen and reviewed three other Lynch films: I loved Elephant Man and Blue Velvet and gave them both 5 stars, while I found Dune to be ridiculously awful and gave it 1 star.

    2. And what about his other films? You haven´t seen them?


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