Kevin Chan’s review published on Letterboxd:
Cowboy: Well, just stop for a little second and think about it. Will ya do that for me?
Adam Kesher: [sarcastic tone] Okay, I'm thinking.
Cowboy: No, you're not thinkin'. You're too busy being a smart aleck to be thinkin'. Now I want ya to "think" and stop bein' a smart aleck. Can ya try that for me?
Frankly, this conversation from the film encapsulates much of what my brain was thinkin’ and much of what it was thinkin’ about was what was happenin’. Lynch gave this film the tagline, “A love story in the city of dreams.” And quite fitting.
So a blonde aspiring actress Betty Elms (Naomi Watts) flies out of Canada and lands in Los Angeles, where her Aunt Ruth has left her her own apartment to borrow as she’s off making a film. The night before, a brunette babe named Rita (Laura Elena Harring) survives a massive car crash with a concussion and makes her way into Aunt Ruth’s apartment before Betty arrives. Then you’re in for a warped Lynchian tale of weird romances, failed aspirations, and mixed sensations occurring in peculiar vignettes... and more. Such qualities happen to be quite fitting in the odd, yet wondrous and eerie paradise of the City of Angels.
There is the idea of leaving a story up to the audience’s interpretation. Personally, not a fan of that. Lynch doesn’t bother to reveal truly what happened, but undeniably the concept of a dream is what’s integral to the crux of the story. Not only dreams, but hallucinations, which can definitely be byproducts of failed romances. Another aspect — did not really care about what’s meant to be a provocative romance. But one element that makes it interesting is the simple bare (heh) fact that it was provocative. Or should we say titillating? That nature was already ensconced within what is already an outrageous narrative with hard quirks, so it works.
This review is already lacking a cohesive structure, but heck, this is Mulholland Drive.
It isn’t necessarily the characters and the plight that grab attention. Rather, it’s the art and arousing eccentricity that drive the film. And Lynch’s form of that is quite great. Is Diane the real character? Is Betty a manufactured byproduct of a failed career? Is Rita Betty’s version of the ideal woman like Rita Hayworth? Was the entire first half of the flick... a dream?
In addition to that kind of art, something that was very cool and maybe a small love letter to old Hollywood was Naomi Watts’ performance in the very beginning. Right when she touches down on California soil, she not only acts like the idyllic newbie trying to make it into the movies, she acts like an ideal Golden Era Hollywood actress. From the constant bubbly behavior, style of words and intonations, and optimistic essence, there’s an intriguing vibe all the way through as if she stepped right out of a 1930s feature. That is until, of course, certain events happen.
And that dichotomy between her and the amnesiac Rita just exudes so much interest plus in the way it’s shot. Betty still acting like a classic silver screen star, while Rita is just the opposite. All within a genre bender of crime, mystery, comedy, and drama starring a blonde and brunette and with exquisite cinematography. It feels as if Lynch took Hawks’ Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and flipped it upside down to get rid of the whimsical optimism and traditional romance to fuel thought processes with troublesome worries and odd sexy time. Dammit, idk.
Maybe this is just my mind reaching, but that is what it feels like (at least to me). Lynch took the idea of having two attractive women, a blonde and brunette, in Jane Russell & Marilyn Monroe and f*#%!d with it and twisted it with Watts & Harring. Then fifteen years later, this flick also turned out to be La La Land’s sinister sister. Gotta say they are gorgeous ladies. Whew. Man, Naomi’s a babe! Anyways...
A critique on Hollywood and a perchance to dream due to loss and hope, my mind wants to bring this rating up a bit more. Maybe some time in the future. Mulholland Drive might get a higher rating just based on how mental yet exquisite its filmmaking truly is. Much of it is quite hilarious. A fun ride. This is definitely the least cohesive of my recent reviews. Thanks, Dave.
EDIT: Yeah, raised the star rating a little. Couldn’t help myself. The stylistic aesthetic and substantial outrageousness tango quite smoothly. Maybe also the rating’s up because of Naomi.