Justin Peterson’s review published on Letterboxd:
Criterion Collection Spine #779
(Quest to Conquer the BFI/AFI Greatest Films of All Time Lists)
David Lynch's intricately woven masterpiece of the Hollywood dream turned nightmare!
"This is the girl."
It was roughly a year ago when I first saw Mulholland Drive which sparked me routinely listening to You Tube film analysis, since I was so baffled by what I had just experienced. A year later I have now seen all of Lynch's feature films and Twin Peaks, so I have a much better frame of reference for understanding his work. But despite having seen 'Mulholland Drive' and mostly understanding it a year ago, Lynch's puzzle of a film still felt mysterious on a rewatch.
Much like 'Twin Peaks' Lynch uses a strange but linear story to immerse you into this mystery. But then that last half hour hits which totally goes away from that comfortable foundation and leaves you scrambling to keep all the interconnected pieces organized in your mind.
Lynch constructs each scene of the film with a purpose by filling it with various artistic film elements like color symbolism and metaphor. For excellent scene by scene interpretations of the film I highly recommend checking out the various video reviews on You Tube.
"You know, there was a man that lived here once that had a prize-fighting kangaroo."
Mulholland Drive would be a good choice for anyone interested in starting to check out the strange and surreal work of David Lynch. I think this film shows off the pinnacle of his talent by being deeply puzzling but also tangible. Its ok to feel baffled after watching his films, and for me any movie that requires you to look toward various sources to discover or validate your understanding of a film is a rewarding experience. And if you think this movie is weird, then his final film to date 'Inland Empire' will really have you perplexed. I still was having trouble fully grasping that one even after listening to various interpretations.
"Hey, pretty girl, time to wake up."
Now I would like to explore a few of my favorite moments from Mulholland Drive:
There are a couple scenes were you will notice the camera is constantly moving very slowly in various directions, creating this unsettling feeling. This is done most effectively toward the beginning during the Winkie's Diner scene when the two men are talking the bizarre burnt looking homeless creature that is lurking behind the diner.
I love the music Angelo Badalamenti composed for the film, especially the eerie synthesizer rhythms that are used to build this menacing atmosphere, very similar to the music used throughout Twin Peaks. The music is also sounds very reminiscent of the haunting atmospheric score from 'Eyes Wide Shut'.
If you look closely during the Jitter Bug sequence at the start of the film you will notice there are only three couples that are dancing, but the video is layered to create the illusion that they are many more couples.
So the basic idea of the plot in Mulholland Drive is that a woman named Diane brilliantly played by Naomi Watts travels to Hollywood to pursue her dream to become a great actress. From the point where we see her dive into her pillow, we spend the next two hours in the elaborate fantasy she has come up with where she is staying in her famous aunt's apartment and discovers a woman who can not remember who she is after getting into a car accident on Mulholland Drive. In the fantasy Diane has renamed her self Betty which is stolen from the name of the waitress at the diner. Betty is given this youthful happy go lucky persona, and you notice that she is wearing a shirt that is too small for her possibly symbolizing that she has already out grown this Hollywood fantasy.
The diner is important because that's where Diane meets with a hitman that she has hired to kill her former girlfriend and acting competitor Camilla Rhodes played by the beautiful Laura Harring. This is because she feels betrayed by Camilla, since she is believes she is sleeping her way to become a Hollywood star, and that's the reason she got the lead part in The Sylvia North Story that they both auditioned for. So the Diner represents a dark side which is personified by the creature lurking behind it.
During the fantasy we are even shown how the hitman is a total goofball when he totally botches a hit we see him on by killing two additional people before setting off the fire alarm. Betty imagines this becasue she hopes he would make the same kind of blunders when going after Camilla, allowing her to possibly escape.
Being a fan of Twin Peaks, it was really cool to notice the little man from the Red Room Michael Anderson playing the mob boss character in Mulholland Drive.
The fantasy has been constructed so that Betty is getting a chance to be with Camilla who is known Rita in the dream, and help her discover who she really is. The sensuality Lynch captures between Watts and Harring in their romantic scenes together is so palpable that you can almost taste the seductive red lip stick they are wearing. Around this point the fantasy starts to break down as Rita wears a blonde wig revealing that they are the same person within this fantasy that is coming to an end.
My favorite scene of the film is when the two women venture to Club Silencio where the fantasy continues to break down. We find out that all the performances are pre-recorded. Despite that fact, we want to believe that the heartbreakingly beautiful song that is performed is real, but are shown the cruel reality that it is not when the singer collapses on stage. The dream finally ends when Rita opens this blue box, and the film gets sucked into reality where we witness the moments of Diane's life that lead her into this dream state. Then the guilt of having Camilla killed drives her insane, to the point where she feels like she is being attacked by this strange old couple and then kills herself.
It is staggering to think about all the inner meanings behind each scene of the film and how that plays into either Betty's fantasy or Diane's cruel reality. I really need to check out the film 'Sunset Blvd.', to look for the additional influences Lynch pulled from that classic Hollywood story.
Mulholland Drive is a true masterwork from Writer and Director David Lynch, and the story clearly reflects how jaded he feels toward the Hollywood establishment following the struggles he has had in delivering his unique Lynchy vision.
- Daniel Plainview
Happy movie watching ... SKOL!