This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Chris Richmond’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
"It'll be just like in the movies!"
David Lynch's 21st century masterpiece Mulholland Drive is one of those films that can be called an "experience" without inducing eye-rolling from anyone who's seen it. A dreamy, nightmarish vision of Los Angeles and Hollywood, and the seductive but hollow beauty and promise therein, this one catapults us into an insane interweaving of false hopes, crushed dreams, desperation, and evil.
The mystery and ultimately revealing twist would already make for a fantastic film, but it's really the little things that make the difference here; slight differences you can only pick up on if you're watching closely: the director's now-you-see-it-now-you-don't unibrow, the increasingly prominent blemishes on the Naomi Watts of the real world, as well as her significantly less perfect teeth.
Speaking of Watts, her performance may very well be the single best by anyone post-2000 so far. She is absolutely incredible. Despite playing an actress within the dream of an actress, the phoniness, the performance, and the depression of her truer self are equally compelling and fitting. She balances it all perfectly, drawing plenty of emotional response without ever feeling pandering or over-the-top (a "problem" certainly evident in other Lynch films [Basically I'm just talking about Blue Velvet]). The rest of the performances are all great, but Watts really does steal the show.
The camera does some really unique things here. We have some cool crane shots, fast dolly-ins, aerial rotations, zooms, pans, you name it. But what really sets this film apart in terms of the cinematography and editing are the totally idiosyncratic scene transitions and the shuddering, blurry focuses that seem to imitate the harrowed point of view of our protagonist. Surrealist is one thing, but this can feel at some points like a full blown acid trip.
The score is also wonderful. It ebbs and flows, suggestive and foreboding. A stellar complement to the neon lights and the grungy darkness filling the frame.
Even past the impressive technical success and the batshit insane happenings that make Lynch so fascinating to watch, the most incredible thing about Mulholland Drive is its gut-wrenching depiction of Los Angeles and the film industry and its demonstration of the way this city and the people in it will spit on your dreams, turning everything you ever loved into a monster, wrapped in money and sex and spite. The revealing of reality is a sober reminder that "it's all recorded." And the kind of success and happiness so many envision is waiting for them out west and in the industry tends to be nothing like the movies.