Mulholland Dr. (2001)


Written & Directed by David Lynch


The film opens with a bit of non-sense, probably a good indicator of things to come. We have quick editing and strange images strung together that, even after finishing the film, don’t necessarily make sense. Then we open to Mulholland Dr. and some type of celebrity in the back of a limousine. It is here that I started writing my questions down. I had my notebook out to take notes so that I might make my write-up on the film that much more complete and hopefully clear, but what I ended up doing is just writing down a million questions that were raised in my mind, hoping to keep track of what was going on and hoping they would be answered at some point down the line. My questions were never answered. That sort of frustrated me, but I think what Lynch was doing was letting the viewer answer their own questions, which I think I always like those types of movies where you can make it mean what you want it too.

First of all, there were a lot of different characters in the film to keep track of. You had the main characters of Betty (Watts) and Rita (Harring), but you also had Adam the director (Theroux) and a whole slew of random characters and movie people. There were so many ‘that guy’s in this it was astounding. I think I probably recognized every actor but could not place them at all. And am I mistaken, was Billy Ray Cyrus in this, really? I was also intrigued by the fact that the Production Designer was Jack Fisk because I only knew of his work with the legendary Terrence Malick.

So the story. I basically think that the majority of it is a dream sequence and the rest is actually reality. Here is what I think is reality: Betty arrives in Hollywood to stay at her Aunt’s place and try to make it as an actress. She goes into an audition that goes really well, but she soon realizes what Hollywood is all about: the bad, manipulative people, the crime and crazy people that are all around. The detective from the car crash and the actor that she auditioned with were both Robert Forster, so something has to give. But this isn’t just about Hollywood, it’s about a small town girl arriving in a big city and getting a slice of reality. The world sucks sometimes and there are some crazy things that happen and some crazy people that happen. The rest of the film is just a dream sequence, a personal fable of Betty’s as a way of relaying the story to the viewer. The specifics I don’t think happened. Rita I don’t think is real, she may just be one of Betty’s persona’s, especially since we see Betty repeat the opening scene almost exactly the same. Adam is probably real and probably the other Hollywood players, but the bottomline is that it isn’t 100% reality I don’t think.

It is interesting to note that everybody changes persona’s after Rita opens the box with the key that was in her purse. It is kind of like opening Pandora’s Box, everything is released and all hell breaks loose. Rita become Camilla Rhodes, who gets the part in the movie over Betty (I think that is what happens) which causes rejection in addition to Adam starting to like her over Betty, who at this point in now Diane (more rejection). The two find Diane dead in her apartment before Betty becomes Diane though, so what does that mean? She is somehow connected to Rita, was it Betty/Diane? Too many questions! I’m not sure what all the lesbian stuff was about either. I think it goes back to that theme of rejection, because then Rita/Camilla starts liking Adam instead. They’re not lesbians, they’re thespians. The dialogue is a good indicator of this theory in my mind. Because the dialogue often comes off as very unnatural and not fluid at all, kind of like it is being scripted through someone’s mind. I also think the ending of the film, with the couple from the plane, kind of supports it in the way that they were there at the idealistic beginning and then after everything has went down they are there to terrorize Betty.

There are two scenes in particular that I still cannot find connections. The diner scene at Winkie’s with the two men, the one having a repeated dream, and the scene where Adam comes home to find his wife cheating with the pool man. But what about “The Cowboy”, the scene at the late night “magic” show and the large man that comes to Adam’s house looking for him. What does it all mean? I’m not sure I will ever know, even if I watch this 100 more times, but then again maybe I can come up with a theory by that time. I probably didn’t cover everything, but how can you? I hope I raised some interesting points for people to talk about and I hope that I didn’t hurt anyone’s mind because only mine is supposed to hurt.

***1/2 – Great

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