Mulholland Drive

Mulholland Drive ★★★★½

I'm increasingly of the mind that every David Lynch film is an experience unto itself; a window into a surrealist landscape that defies all attempts at definition or boundaries. Lynch confounds even the most ardent of cineaste's, and yet he is beloved by many for that very reason. And no other film defies explanation quite like Mulholland Drive.

A dream-like film noir on the power of movies (at least, that's my take on the affair), Mulholland Drive is a film that by its very nature requires multiple viewings to gain a full appreciation of, and even afterwards you still might be lost. There can be an argument made for the idea that Lynch really has nothing to say, nothing of value anyway, and that he simply hides his lack of narrative talent behind a visage of artistic gibberish. But the power of Lynch is in the explanation and explorations of his films, at least his best films (outside of the fairly straightforward The Elephant Man). Mulholland Drive may be confusing, but there is some method to the madness once you take the time and effort to unlock it, and the process is as rewarding as the final result, in my opinion.

But what there can be little argument about is the fantastic performance by Naomi Watts as Betty Elms and Diane Selwyn. She is utterly gripping as the focal point of the mystery at the heart of the film, and trying to decipher her reality around her (while she is doing the same) is a powerful endeavor unto itself. It's a fascinating performance that Watts nails, and frankly should have garnered her an Oscar for Best Actress. Laura Elena Harring has a similar role that she pulls off well enough, but it falters next to Watts by just a tad.

I think the film this one reminds me of the most is the Jacques Rivette mystery/arthouse picture Celine and Julie Go Boating. This has more of a concrete plot to it (in comparison to the Rivette film, which feels much more airy and light) but still has the same dreamlike quality. It's open to multiple interpretations of what is and what isn't reality, both of individual moments within the context of the film and the entirety of the film itself. More than that it takes film noir conventions (which Rivette didn't use admittedly, utilizing more of a chase theme in his picture) and merely uses them aesthetically to reinforce the dreamlike visage, without chaining the narrative down to a single genre. Lynch does a magnificent job directing this film, perhaps his best job in his career.

I may not understand everything about this film, nor can I really put into words all my various ideas and interpretations of the images herein (more an inadequacy on my part than anything else). All I can say is that Mulholland Drive is worth experiencing to the fullest extent that you can, a masterwork of surrealist cinema that is an enigma wrapped inside a dream.

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