This movie is his latest opus and has bewildered most that have seen this work. Lynch’s works are not the type of film that you can casually view. They require a dedication of your time and attention. Many hold his films in distain because they are unwilling to commit to these requirements. If you are willing to pay attention Mulholland Drive will provide many hours of discussion with other viewers.
Mulholland Drive opens with a fifties style jitterbug contest. The scene switches to the inside of a car where a pretty young woman (Laura Harring) is being held at gun point, waiting for her murder. Before the trigger can be pulled we see two cars drag racing. One slams into the car with the would be murders. The young woman escapes from the wreck and stumbles from the scene. She winds up in an empty apartment. A bit later, Betty (Naomi Watts) enters, taking over the apartment from her aunt. She finds the dazed young woman who now calls herself Rita (after a Rita Haywood poster) and the two embark on a mission to find out who Rita really is and restore her lost memory.
Interspersed with Mulholland Drive is a behind the scenes look a director took to being forced to cast a certain actress in a role. There is little point is trying to describe the plot here. Mulholland Drive proceeds like a dream unfolding. There are scenes that seem to be completely non sequitor, they cut in and fade out without an apparent relationship to the main characters. In a similar manner to a film like Fight Club, Mulholland Drive must be watched more than once to even begin to grasp what is going on.
The two main actresses are incredible in their roles. Watts has the façade of innocence needed to pull off the wide-eye young woman that just hit Hollywood seeking to fulfill her dream of being a star. Some may remember her from films like Tank Girl but if you really want to see some of her best work check out Under the Lighthouse Dancing, a great little Australian independent film. Here Watts displays screen presence. She takes control of the screen in a quiet, unassuming manner. Even with a major change in character and setting she manages to hold the interest in Mulholland Drive. This is extremely difficult for an actor when everything is pulled out from under the audience for the last third of the movie. Harring is being pushed as a new face but she has been around and paid her dues. She has been in numerous ‘B’ flicks and had some notable TV appearances. Here she underplays her role, which actually works. In the first two thirds of Mulholland Drive she is the amnesiac Rita, dependent upon Betty and sexually drawn to her. In the last third of Mulholland Drive she is the cold, calculating Camilla, the complete opposite of Rita. For an actress to be able to pull off such a switch is a noteworthy feat.
What can I say about the director/writer David Lynch? He is the kind of director that people either love or hate, few are in the middle with his works. Known best for his TV series Twin Peaks, Lynch continues this tradition of throwing out the established norms for movie making and blazing his own path. Mulholland Drive is perhaps the best representation of a dream state ever filmed. He makes no excuses for the confusion. As Mulholland Drive draws to the end he leaves the interpretation to the audience. He provides cluse to his vision of the meaning but allows enough leeway for the audience to engage in some heated discussion concerning this film.
As for clues, he even provides a number of them on the back of the inside cover photo of the Mulholland Drive DVD. Read them after your first viewing of this movie. Lynch is very much into the merger of sight and sound in his films. In Mulholland Drive he blends the often-pounding soundtrack with a visual experience for the audience. Every frame is needed, every detail important to the unfolding of his idea as a writer. You would almost have to view Mulholland Drive frame by frame to see every aspect of the tapestry he presents. And while we are on the presentation, Lynch did not allow chapter stops on this disc. He wants Mulholland Drive to be viewed, as it would be in the theater, all at once. If this is too much for you the time track is present so if your player permits it you can go to a specific point in Mulholland Drive. He also leaves Mulholland Drive out of any specific time period. Parts seem to be in the fifties but others appears to be in the current time. Check out the phones. There are scenes with old rotary models mixed with cell phones. True to the dream theme Lynch switches between first and third person points of views. Mulholland Drive will intrigue you as much as it confuses you.
The Mulholland Drive disc is well made albeit light on extras. The audio is provided in both Dolby 5.1 and DTS six channel. The mix here is loud. Some of the sound track will pulse through the sub woofer and shake your room. The anamorphic 1.85:1 video is excellent, crisp and clear. Every tiny detail is visible without artifact or defect. As mentioned before, there are no chapter stops present. Mulholland Drive requires and more than average commitment to its viewing. Mulholland Drive is the kind of a film that comes across better on DVD than in the theaters since multiple viewings are required and you can pause to check out the clues you find. While some films are beer and pizza films Mulholland Drive is more a wine and cheese flick. Watch Mulholland Drive a few times and have fun dissecting it with your friends.
Home made chapter stops:
Chapter/ Time start/ Description
01 00:00:00 Jitterbug contest
02 00:02:13 Main titles/Limo accident
03 00:06:42 Wandering Hollywood
04 00:08:51 Scene of the accident
05 00:10:13 Aunt Ruth departs
06 00:12:01 Monster dream at Winkie's
07 00:16:59 "The girl is still missing"
08 00:18:11 Betty at the airport
09 00:20:22 Coco and the mystery woman
10 00:25:14 "My name's Rita"
11 00:27:51 Adam meets the Castigliane Brothers
12 00:34:47 "Do you want us to shut everything down?"
13 00:36:35 The hitman and the famous black book
14 00:41:11 Rita's amnesia and the blue key
15 00:45:05 The hitman and the prostitute
16 00:46:02 Rita remembers something
17 00:46:45 "They fired everyone"
18 00:47:29 An accident on Mulholland Drive?
19 00:48:50 Adam goes home
20 00:52:29 Hiding the money
21 00:53:09 Anonymous call to the police
22 00:54:26 Coffee at Winkie's/ Diane
23 00:55:33 "It's strange to be calling yourself"
24 00:56:44 Big visitor to Adam's house
25 00:58:00 "They know where you are"
26 00:59:40 "You're broke"
27 01:02:07 "My name is Betty"/ "No it's not!"
28 01:04:50 The Cowboy
29 01:09:33 Rehearsal
30 01:11:02 Coco's suspicions
31 01:13:10 The audition
32 01:21:35 "We just get a little catty sometimes"
33 01:22:26 "Sixteen Reasons"
34 01:24:53 Camilla Rhodes/ The Sylvia North Story
35 01:27:42 Betty and Rita go to Diane's apartment
36 01:31:00 Apartment 12
37 01:32:44 "Guess you're not Diane Selwyn"/ Breaking in
38 01:36:46 Rita incognito
39 01:38:02 "You don't have to sleep on that couch"
40 01:42:11 "Go with me somewhere"
41 01:44:46 Club Silencio
42 01:48:o6 Rebekah del Rio
43 01:52:53 Unlocking the blue box
44 01:56:19 "Hey pretty girl, time to wake up"
45 01:59.08 The blue key
46 02:00:00 "Camilla-- you've come back"
47 02:01:41 "We shouldn't do this anymore"
48 02:03:14 "It's him, isn't it?"
49 02:05:25 Masturbation and hallucination
50 02:06:51 Camilla calls/ Limo ride
51 02:09:25 Shortcut
52 02:10:54 A party Diane will never forget
53 02:12:33 "I always wanted to come here"
54 02:16:18 Meeting the hitman/ "This is the girl"
55 02:18:14 The Monster and the box
56 02:19:12 Screams and a gunshot
57 02:21:19 Camilla and Diane, together again
58 02:22:31 End credits
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