Is has been a long wait since Lynch’s last ‘Lynch film’ “Lost Highway” (1997) which is one of my all-time favourites. Two years ago there was Lynch’s one ‘normal’ film called “The Straigth Story” and then it was as usual quiet for a few years around mister Lynch on the film field. He probably worked on other projects on the field of sculpting, painting, music or something else.
“Mulholland Dr.” had it’s official Dutch premiere at the filmfestival of Rotterdam two weeks ago, and it has played in two cinemas before the ‘public premiere’ the day before yesterday. Also the German version has been playing in Germany for about a month now, which is pretty strange. Rather sad is that this film was supposed to be another TV series, but the producers thought that it was better to cut it to a film, which eventually came to last 2,5 hours. The open end can suggest that Lynch wants to keep the possibility for a series open…
Anyway, in more than one aspect, “Mulholland Dr.” is like “Lost Highway”, especially in the beginning. The way of acting, two of the same kinds of policemen. Furtheron there is another ‘mystery man’, changing characters/ personalities and the not knowing whether what you see is ‘real’, dreams, visions, flashbacks or whatever.
Where “Lost Highway” had mainly two different stories that can be either told after eachother or synchronous, “Mulholland Dr.” has more different stories that are either or not told throughout the whole film, either or not have something to do with eachother or again, either or not to have happened after eachother or at the same time.
The film starts with a scene in which Camilla Rhodes/Rita (Laura Harring) sits in the back of a limo (that seems to have a special significance in the film) and when the driver stops to have her shot, the limo is ran into by a racing car full of teenagers. Camilla staggers out of the limo and towards the lights of the city, where she eventually ends up in the empty appartment that will be inhabited by the beautiful, but dumb Betty Elms (Naomi Watts).
In the beginning there isn’t anything really ‘wrong’. Stories about two guys telling eachother about the accident, one killing the other in a brilliant and violent scene. The two women meeting in the appartment, becoming friends and trying to find out who Rita really is and eventually falling in love with eachother. Then there is a story about the young and hot director Adam Kesher (Justin Theroux) who sees his latest project falling into the hands of a rich Italian and loosing his sayso about the main character in his own movie. Angry as he gets he drives home where he finds his wife in bed with the pool-cleaner (another great scene) and flees to a cheap motel downtown. A guy with a disturbing nightmare. Etcetera.
After this things get more confusing. Rita is also a body that the two women find, but this body is also Betty who seems to have gone mad when Rita dumped her in favour of the film-director. The transition to this part of the film comes in typical and extremely dark and impressive Lynch scenes with disturbing events, vague camera-work, dark sounds and strange images.
These lines can only tell a glimpse of what is really there. I have seen “Mulholland Dr.” once now and I think that just as with “Lost Highway” it will take a view or four before some things will be clear and links seen. Also just as “Lost Highway” there is no easy ‘solution’ for the impossibilities in the stories and again the film is not made to be understood or correct.
I wonder -therefor- why “Lost Highway” was slain by the press and called “an ununderstandable monstrosity” while “Mulholland Dr.” gets only raving reviews.
My one opinion for the time being? A bit too much like what Lynch already did. There is a bit too much “Lost Highway” and even Twin Peaks with Michael J. Andersson as a strange character in a room with curtains against the walls (he was the dwarve in Twin Peaks’ Red Room). Still, “Mulholland Dr.” is visually impressive and with a magnificent dark atmosphere like only David Lynch can make it. Just go and see it a couple of times.
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So yesterday I went back to the cinema to see it again. Amazing, “Mulholland Drive” has been shown for a month and still it is sold out almost every single time!
Did I see anything new watching it for the second time? Only small things it seems. Some people come back on a few moments in the film which made me feel like the story of Rita ending up in Betty’s appartment is part of the ‘real story’, also that Betty falls in love with Rita/Camilla, and Rita with Adam the director. Betty can’t cope with that and goes crazy. A large part of the film seems to be Betty’s visions/nightmare in which characters play that she saw in her ‘real life’ at one point or another. The scene in which Rita and Adam say there are getting married would then be a ‘real scene’, the one in which the two women find the body a ‘dreamt scene’. But of course things are not so easy with Lynch.
Rita/Camilla appears to be an actress who would play the main character in Adam Kesher’s latest film. Somehow some rich Italian brothers take over the finances and therefor sayso about the film and they try to kill Rita (opening scene) and replace here by Betty who at one point also seems to be Camilla Rhodes (the scene in which Betty accidentally ends up on the set of Kesher). I don’t know the relation between the Castigliane brothers and Kesher and/or Betty, but there are on Kesher’s party while first they had the biggest fight. The limo still seems to be of special significance, but I don’t know what. It is the limo in which Rita/Camilla has her accident, but also the limo of the Castigliane brothers (this could be, since they probably wanted Rita dead) and the limo that picks up the hysterically laughing old people.
Betty ‘becomes’ Diane Selwyn in the end, who is the dead body and apparently a friend of Rita/Camilla and it is also Diane who goes nuts after being put aside by Rita, so is the Betty story a dream or the Diane story?
Also it is strange that the Cowboy says to Adam that if he does right (by choosing Camilla Rhodes as lead actress which is Betty on the photo) he would see him only once, and if he does wrong, he would see him twice. The Cowboy appears in the film twice more, but Adam did choose Camilla. One time the Cowboy turns up in Betty’s appartment (who just turned into Diane) and there is no Adam present. Hmmm.
Stylistically then. I remember being highly impressed by certain scenes the first time I saw the film, yesterday I was looking forward to the “theatre of illusions”-scene, but I don’t know what I was so impressed by the first time! It is only at a few moments that things get rather dark. Maybe I was watching details too much?
Still too many questions. What is the meaning of the scene of the hitman shooting a friend for a blackbook with numbers? Who is the Twin Peaks dwarf exactly? He seems to be a powerfull being having control over the filmindustry and it seems that he wanted Rita dead and Betty as main character, but what are all these other people have to do with him? He probably represents a dreamstate again, like in Twin Peaks.
The hitman is later hired by Betty to kill Rita, but the blue key telling that things have been taken care off, appears in the film earlier.
And what are that blue box and the monster?
It almost seems like Lynch wanted to keep leads open for in case it is allowed to make the series of Mulholland Drive like he wanted. I sure hope so!