Have you ever tried to put together a jigsaw without knowing what the big picture is supposed to be? That is pretty much what you will feel like after watching David Lynch’s revolutionary Mulholland Drive. It is a must-see film, and if you have already seen it (considering it came out 16 years ago), then it is a must-see-again film.
Being familiar with Lynch’s work, and having previously (though ages ago) seen Mulholland Drive, I walked in the screening room expecting nothing new. I could not have been more wrong. Small-screen-Lynch will give you creeps, but big-screen-Lynch will terrify you – not with what it says, but with what it doesn’t. Instead of being the kind of fear you are used to getting from contemporary horror films, it tiptoes around you in the face of paranoia. Mulholland Drive is not trying to be a horror film; it is a Lynchian mystery that makes you scare yourself (well, Badalamenti’s eerie tunes can also be blamed…).
I believe it’s not a secret that the plot line is not linear, nor logical. I cannot even guarantee that it’s decipherable. First the audience will follow actress Rita (Camilla?) after she gets into a car accident. She meets an aspiring actress Betty (Diane?) and together the two attractive women try to solve Rita’s amnesia. Betty’s story follows the main ideologies of the ‘American dream’ – she nails her first audition, has intense eye contact with a young, successful director; meanwhile Rita is in the dark, struggling in unknown. The end, after we go through the blue box, seems to completely turn this idea around – Betty is struggling, and Rita is dazzling. Mulholland Drive is an elegy to Hollywood, presenting both the upsides and downsides; nothing is certain in the lives of the Hollywood’s elite, just like nothing is certain in the film. Lynch suggests that despite what many films so far have led us to believe about Hollywood, it is all just an illusion, a recording – it’s not real.
Only thing certain in Mulholland Drive is that nothing is certain. Even if after days of pondering, and maybe even re-watching, you are not quite sure how to interpret the film. Even if you manage to put the bigger pieces in place, you still have matters such as the blue box (what on Earth is it? Where did it come from? What’s in there?), the detective’s dream, and last but not least Club Silencio. If you’re really tough and the film didn’t get you paranoid before, it sure did when Rita started yelling “Silencio!” in her sleep; and the whole performance in the Club – what kind of a twisted place was that? And who was the small man behind the glass that controlled the film productions? These scenes certainly had the vibe of the Red Room from Twin Peaks.
To conclude this fragmented record of Lynch’s modern classic, I would suggest you watch this film with a friend. Not because you might be too afraid, but so that you could discuss it with someone afterwards. Trust me. I would confidently include this film as one of the greatest so far in the 21st century – mainly because of what it evokes in the audience, the interaction it creates. It’s like a poem that will bizarrely haunt you even after you believe you have understood all its allegories.
Dir: David Lynch
Prd: Pierre Edelman
Scr: David Lynch
Cast: Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Justin Theroux
Music: Angelo Badalamenti
Running Time: 147 min
New digital restoration of a 4k transfer in cinemas 14th April 2017