The dreams that are encapsulated in our minds can be amazing. They can serve as a cornucopia of all of our future hopes and aspirations that we cling on to, and as a momentary relief from our unpleasant realties. In a dream-state almost anything is possible to achieve since you usually have full control of your narrative and what goes on around you. But what happens if you get side-tracked and become unable to distinguish the difference between real and fantasy? Or if the dreams that you cherish and hold in real life end up not coming to fruition? For today’s edition of Inkling Movie Reviews, I’ll be talking about a very beguiling film, Mulholland Drive.
David Lynch – Sunday Best. Digital image. Sunday Best. The Creative Corporation, n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2016. <http://www.sundaybest.net/artists/david-lynch/>.
Before I dive into this review, I’d like to first talk about the director of this feature-film, David Lynch. He has a distinct cinematic eye and narrative modus operandi that very few film-makers possess in their creative arsenal. Lynch pushes the envelope and constructs ingenious, uncanny imagery that stays with the viewer long after the movie has reached its conclusion. His idiosyncratic style has been described as “Lynchian” by many audiences. Even notable authors such as, David Foster Wallace (Infinite Jest), has his own definition of what makes something “Lynchian”:
“Lynchian: a particular kind of irony where the very macabre and the very mundane combine in such a way as to reveal the former’s perpetual containment within the latter.” – David Foster Wallace
Upon first cursory glance, the settings that David Lynch instills in his movies are completely recognizable, yet very peculiar. If I had to describe my view of “Lynchian” It’s sort of like having someone else voyeuristically probing the inner workings of your mind without consent, and revealing your deepest and darkest secrets that you wouldn’t ever want anyone else to know. To put it in simpler terms, his movies can be quite unnerving; nothing is really as it seems.
The story of Mulholland Drive centers around two female characters, Betty (played by Naomi Watts) and Rita (played by Laura Harring). The overall plot is very hard to articulate and pin down, it’s non-linear and unfolds in a such a manner where you might begin to wonder which of the characters were real or not. This is a film that requires your undivided attention in order to not get lost in all the shenanigans and mind games that will ensue.
Pictures, Universal. Persona Non Grata: The Persona of 3 Women on Mulholland Drive. Digital image. Indie Outlook. Matt Fagerholm, 4 Sept. 2014. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.
Betty is an exuberant blonde, who’s temporarily staying in the vivacious city of Los Angeles. She’s an up-and-coming actress that’s staying at her Aunt’s apartment and hoping to land prominent roles in future movies. Rita is an alluring brunette who almost gets murdered when the limo she’s riding in gets hit by dim-witted street racers. Despite getting into a potentially life-threatening accident, she’s able to walk away from the broken down and dilapidated limousine on the mystifying street, Mulholland Drive. She wanders around aimlessly, and coincidentally takes refuge in the apartment that Betty happens to be staying in.
After Betty discovers that Rita is secretly living in the apartment, she initially came off as hesitant, but she allows her to stay since Rita looked lost and in a state of fear and trepidation. Rita doesn’t recall anything pertaining to her personal life, she’s even forgotten her name. Without any hesitation, Betty decides to befriend Rita and help find her memories. Another character that come into the fold includes a high-profile movie director (played by Justin Theroux) who’s ordered to cast an actress named, Camilla Rhodes, in his next movie or be killed in cold blood. Good grief.
Projects, Malmrose. Mulholland Drive Analysis. Digital image. Malmrose Projects. Youtube, 19 Sept. 2013. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.
Even though I’ve told you quite a bit from this story already, I’m not even beginning to scratch the surface. Excuse me for my abhorrently distasteful language, Mulholland Drive is a complete mindf*ck. In most films, there is usually a cause and effect, one scene would symbiotically lead to the next scene or be subtly referenced in a moment that occurs later on in the movie. But in this film, some vignettes that take shape usually happens with absolutely no clear-cut explanations. So, as a viewer, you are sort of left to your own devices with regards to what is actually happening (or not happening) throughout the entire duration of the motion picture. There possibly isn’t anything that needs to be solved.
But if I had to inject my own interpretation of the message that Lynch was trying to convey,* Potential Spoilers* it’s that not all dreams come true, some can end in utter disappointment. I thought that maybe the first 75% of Mulholland Drive takes place within a fever dream, while the last quarter of it takes place in reality. The character, Betty, is just a dream version of Diane Selwyn; an otherworldly and superficial caricature of her. In Diane’s dreams, her acting skills were highly praised by casting agencies and she got requested for a lot of roles as an actress; she made it big. But in real life, she was unfortunately unsuccessful in her pursuit to become an actress in the movie-industry, and lives a very moribund and impecunious life. While the Rita in her dreams, who’s actually Camilla Rhodes and a former-friend in real life, ends up being the one that becomes a famous actress, while she wallows in profound sadness and bitter resentment. In a fit of rage, Diane decided to hire a hitman to kill Camilla. Once the sinful deed is done, Diane begins to be stricken with a deep sense of guilt and regret over what she’s done when she came to the stark realization that she’s now a murderer, which ends up being her undoing.
Cinema, Only The. Films I Love #2: Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch, 2001). Digital image. Only the Cinema. Blogger, 31 Aug. 2008. Web. 18 Oct. 2016. <http://seul-le-cinema.blogspot.com/2008/08/films-i-love-2-mulholland-dr-david.html>.
In conclusion, Mulholland Drive is movie that I would recommend if you are the kind of viewer that likes to fully immerse yourself with a story without any outside distractions, and be able to look past logic and reasoning to gain a newfound appreciation for unconventional storytelling. As Thomas Pynchon once said:
“Why should things be easy to understand?” -Thomas Pynchon
Just like dreams, Mulholland Drive might not make any sense, and that’s totally fine, it doesn’t have to. But whether you like this movie or not, you’ll still walk away with some sort of inkling or lasting impression that’ll linger on in a perpetual manner.
Thanks for stopping by. If you’ve seen Mulholland Drive or any other David Lynch films, I’d love to hear your thoughts as well. Stay fresh!