Mulholland Drive

Mulholland Drive ★★★★★

Mulholland Drive is almost certainly the most fervently discussed entry of the Lynchian canon (if you don't agree, just Google the title) and is in many respects his most intriguing piece of work.

The dystopian 'dreamplace' of modern day Los Angeles provides the backdrop for this tale of one (or is it two?) woman's descent into the bowels of Hollywood. Interpretations of both Naomi Watts and Laura Elena Harring's characters have differed over the 13 years that have eluded since Mulholland Drive's release. Sadly, I don't feel as if I am in a position to offer a fresh take on either. What I can categorically say, however, is that Watts and Harring are the heartbeat of this film, which is emboldened by their presence. Both fluctuate between two very different states of minds in a manner that is wholly intoxicating. I cared deeply about both of these women, regardless of their true identities.

That is not to say, however, that the question of identity is not a pertinent one. It is nigh on impossible to accurately quantify just who Watts is playing...is she the ingenue Betty Elms or the doomed Diane Selwyn? Both are presented to us in equal portions, the former at the offset of the film and the latter during its disturbing crescendo. The answer, as Lynch has suggested , can be found only through personal interpretation. Which is, naturally, built on the emotions that Mulholland Drive invoke in you.

That's essentially the crux of the film. Mulholland Drive is such a subjective cinematic experience that it defies the boundaries of categorical definition. Perhaps its transparency is born out of its origins as a failed TV pilot. There are certainly a myriad of ideas floating around, many of which could easily be elaborated on in greater detail (just who is Mr. Roque?). What is without doubt is that this is a film that makes you work hard to gain an understanding of what it may or may not be trying to say. And that, in my opinion, is its beauty.

We live in a gluttonous age, one where answers are available at the click of a button. This is apparent nowhere more than in contemporary cinema. The majority of directors glad-handedly share the meaning (or intended meaning) of their pictures, leaving us with an ultimately shallow viewing experience. Mulholland Drive, and films of its ilk, should therefore be savoured. Enjoy being challenged!

P.S. For what it's worth I, rather lazily, subscribe to the view that the film is based on a sequential documentation of the distortion between dreams and reality, otherwise known as the unending nightmare. Feel free to discuss.

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