Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Justin Theroux, Ann Miller, Dan Hedaya
Director: David Lynch
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Pandora couldn't resist opening the forbidden box containing all the delusions of mankind, and let's just say David Lynch, in Mulholland Drive, indulges a similar impulse. Employing a familiar film noir atmosphere to unrav... more »
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Mulholland Drive explained
Randal Robinson | Redmond, WA | 09/27/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Don't listen to anyone who tells you that this movie is impossible to understand. That's not true. Difficult, yes...especially on first viewing, but there is method to David Lynch's madness and there is an explanation to be found for those willing to look.
Mulholland Drive is a brilliantly structured film even though the structure is unconventional. Basically the first two hours play out as the dream of a very troubled young woman by the name of Diane Selwyn. In the final 30 minutes we are taken into Diane's reality. Mullholland Drive is a very disturbing portrait of the inner world of a woman about to commit suicide and we learn about her life and what led her to murder and suicide through the dream imagery of the first two hours.
What confuses many people the first time they see Mulholland Drive is that David Lynch doesn't use the normal cinematic techniques to tip his audience off that they are watching a dream segment. In fact, the dream plays out in fairly conventional linear fashion while it is the reality portion of the film that plays out in non-linear form, jumping back and forth in time and introducing psychotic hallucinations as well. This further blurs the line between reality and fantasy in this film.
Contrary to popular belief Mulholland Drive is actually very intricately plotted, although the narrative is not readily apparent on the first viewing. The dream portion is a mirror image of reality and it displays a reversed reflection of Diane's real world. A few examples: In the dream Rita exits the limousine and walks downhill; in reality Diane exits the limousine and walks uphill. In the dream Aunt Ruth is alive; in reality Aunt Ruth is dead. In the dream Adam Kesher's world is spinning out of control and he is losing everything; in reality Adam Kesher's world is very much in control and he has everything. In the dream the hitman is incompetent; in reality he turns out to be all too competent. In the dream Camilla is alive and Diane is dead; in reality Diane is alive and Camilla is dead.
Betty is, of course, the idealized dream version of Diane. She's a prettier, more wholesome, and more talented version of Diane. However, Diane is not Betty in her dream as most people automatically assume...she's Rita.
Mulholland Drive is a challenging and haunting film that I believe will only rise in stature as the years go by. David Lynch spoonfeeds nothing to his audience but challenges them to explore the nightmarish inner world of Diane Selwyn for themselves and reach their own interpretations and conclusions. There are great rewards for those willing to do so.
Nov. 1, 2007 Edit:
I just watched Mulholland Drive again after a few years and I was kind of surprised to see this old review of mine written years ago at the top here. I do think my understanding and appreciation of the film has deepened over the years and, although I still believe most of what I originally wrote is correct, I'd probably modify it a bit, especially the part about Diane being Rita in her dream. I now believe that Betty and Rita both represented different parts of Diane: Betty was her idealized, innocent side while Rita was the darker, more seductive side that she believed would help advance her career in Hollywood. One of the saddest parts of the movie, in my opinion, is my belief that the very likeable and attractive Betty was the person that Diane could have been if not for her tragic childhood and the series of destructive choices she made in her life.
For those who've read and commented on my original review and are interested, here's a somewhat revised version that represents my current interpretation of the film.
Mulholland Drive is a rather chilling look into the psyche of a deeply disturbed and suicidal woman named Diane Selwyn who is guilt stricken over her involvement in the murder of her estranged lover. The entire movie takes place in her apartment over the course of a few hours on the day she commits suicide.
The first two hours is a dream Diane has during a heavy, drug-induced sleep that attempts to rewrite a happier, idealized version of herself and her life from the time she arrives in Hollywood, but gradually grows darker over time and eventually collapses back into her reality. The final part of the movie is her reality which is told through a series of flashbacks, memories, and psychotic hallucinations. First-time viewers often don't realize they're watching a dream since Lynch doesn't use the usual cinematic techniques (other than a brief first-person descent into a pillow at the beginning) to signal a dream sequence and this part of the film is told in fairly conventional linear sequence, while it's the reality part of the film that jumps around in non-linear fashion.
The dream portion is kind of a dark, twisted version of Dorothy's dream from the Wizard of Oz where she casts people she knows from her real life into various roles in her dream. But since her subconscious is the producer, writer, and director of the dream these people are just actors on her stage and everything is really about Diane and her life even if she doesn't appear to be represented in a scene. For example, there's no reason to believe that a wealthy film director like Adam Kesher would check into a fleabag hotel like the Park Hotel when he thought he still had access to all his money nor would he know the hotel manager by name. Diane, however, who had lived on the fringes of the Hollywood dream, might well be familiar with this kind of seedy hotel and its manager.
Once you realize that everything you're seeing in the first two hours springs from Diane's subconscious mind it's possible to take the clues and symbolism that Lynch plants in the dream and construct a remarkably deep and complex examination of Diane's life which also peels back the layers on a psyche that's been irreparably damaged by sexual molestation by her grandfather, prostitution, and a destructive relationship with an actress named Camilla Rhodes which ultimately leads to murder and suicide.
Mulholland Drive is not only David Lynch's masterpiece, it's one of the most chilling movies I've ever seen."
Follow the 10 clues on the DVD sleeve
Steve Klemow | Dallas, TX United States | 04/28/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I won't bother to add to the already monolithic body of glowing reviews of this film; I think it is a masterful work, equivalent to and perhaps surpassing "Blue Velvet" in artistic merit. I am writing mostly because many of those who claim that they hated the film because it "doesn't make sense," or loved it even though it is "open to interpretation" may not have taken heed of the clues David Lynch included in the DVD sleeve. They clearly reveal the logic of the film to those who take the requisite time to think them through. My review is essentially one giant "spoiler," so if you haven't seen the film, take heed.
The film most certainly does "make sense" and follows a completely rational and logistically valid plot structure. The film begins with a stylized jitterbug contest behind the opening credits, showing Naomi Watt's character (Diane Selwyn) winning a trip to LA from her native Canada to tryout for a Hollywood production. We then see the suggestion of a sleeping figure (Diane again) in red sheets prior to the start of her dream, which opens with the hypnotic figure of a limosine traveling down a dark road, containing Diane's idealization of her real-life paramour, Camilla Rhodes. In reality, Camilla is Diane's former lesbian lover, who betrayed her by stealing the coveted role in the film Diane unsuccessfully tried out for, and spurned her affections for the director of the film. Diane is so jealous and infuriated that she hires a hitman to kill Camilla; when the two meet to discuss the deal, the hitman says he will leave a blue key on her coffee table to signify that Camilla has been successfully dispatched. The film's dream sequence begins after Diane has received the key, and Diane's fantasies of a happier outcome are manifest in what we see.
In her dream, she is her idealized self, free of insecurities, more innocent and charismatic--nailing her tryout for the film, but explaining "Camilla's" victory by the influence of the mafia ("Camilla" in the dream is replaced by a woman whom the real-life Camilla tauntingly kisses at a party to infuriate Diane). Other characters who represent real-life counterparts also resurface in the dream, in various roles: "Coco," played by Ann Miller, is actually the film director's mother, the man terrified of the ghoul behind Winkie's is an accomplice of Diane's hired hitman, and the mafiosos played by Dan Hedaya and Angelo Badalamenti were other attendees of the humiliating party where Camilla taunts Diane with news of her engagement to the director. In the dream, Diane refashions her hitman as a bungling idiot who botches Camilla's murder, subsequently leaving Camilla helpless with amnesia for who she is or where she came from so that "Betty," Diane's counterpart in the dream, can become her heroine, and have a utopian, romantic love affair with her.
Throughout the dream, omens occur that suggest the truth behind Diane's fantasy; the forboding man behind Winkie's, Lee Grant's wacko Cassandra-character with her warnings of trouble, the Cowboy, and the MC at the late-night Cabaret who insists that all is not as it seems. The blue key becomes expressionistically rendered in the dream, and opens the proverbial Pandora's Box, at which time Diane mysteriously disappears from her own dream, leaving Camilla alone to open the box--and then Lynch imposes a couple of his haunting frame shifts, here done with lighting effects, before the Cowboy enters Diane's bedroom, telling her "it's time to wake up, pretty girl."
Now we see Diane's reality when she awakens, and evidence of her crushing guilt (notice her initial relief when she hallucinates that Camilla has returned from the dead, and her subsequent breakdown when she realizes the truth). Eventually, the gravity of what she has done overwhelms her when she realizes that the police want her for questioning, and the old couple from her dream, whom I presume represent her conscience, are released by the demon behind Winkie's (that is, she loses her sanity). Her demons chase her to her bedroom, where she hysterically grabs a gun from her nightstand, and takes her own life.
Check out Lynch's clues--there's much more to them than what I've included here. He's a master--I don't think he produces a frame of film without agonizing over it for weeks, and I highly doubt someone who produced something as lovingly detailed as this film let any inconsistencies or gaffes slip past him. What a movie this is--I'll never forget it."
Paranoia, desire, crushed ambition, realizations of self...
Nicholas J. Coleman | New York, NY USA | 06/04/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie was not intended to be shown in one sitting. Originally conceived as a television drama (much like Twin Peaks), it only became a film when it was not picked up for a television market. David Lynch then re-imagined what he had already created and worked to fashion a film, seeking foreign producers and a distributor that trusted him. While this short history of the genesis of the film does not explain its intricacies, perhaps it will help to soothe the frustrations of someone watching the film for the first time. Can you imagine trying to piece together the entire history of the X-Files in one 3 hour sitting? It would be difficult at best.In my opinion, one big clue to the movie is in the opening shot (not the beginning credits, but the first "film" frame). It is of a pillow and a sheet...that quickly dissolves into a rather nostalgic ride down Mulholland Drive (the road that runs behind the famous HOLLYWOOD sign). The movie does not return the viewer to that shot ... of the pillow again until Diane wakes up nearly 5/8's of the way through the film. It can be assumed that this whole portion of the film has been one long dream, a dream that gives us a great deal of insight into the personal desires and fantasies of Diane. The rest of the film is a mish-mash of (in my opinion) drug-induced daydreams and paranoia, seen through the beer-bottle goggles of Diane. She over-emphasizes the importance of things she is suspicious of, and sees things that are not really there--ultimately leading to her making some bad decisions that she cannot deal with.Several characters appear in both worlds (the dream, and the warped/drug altered reality of the end). These characters, we assume, have had some kind of impact on Diane's life. Her fantasy/inner vision of the characters is seen in her dream, the somewhat-subjective reality of them revealed only in the latter part of the film. There are really only two characters that are enigmas: the person behind the diner, and the cowboy. In my opinion, the person behind the diner represents a drug dealer (making things happen) whom Diane buys from (who controls Pandora's box). The cowboy, to me, represents the simple, logical, American person that Diane hopes is out there, striving to right the wrongs of LA.The dream sequence is Diane's subconscious exploring her feelings for the people and places in her life, and rewriting her experiences in a version she likes better (she is an amazing actress, who is only deterred from certain stardom because of a conspiracy, and who loves someone that would love her fully too, if only she really knew who she was). When she wakes up, she must then come to terms with her life, and muddle through the confusing haze of people and relationships in her life within LA culture...confusing matters incredibly with her drug/fantasy/day dream visions.The movie is a masterpiece of writing, direction, cinematography, and ultimately conviction to telling an unconventional story...Lynch, Herring, Watts and others never waver in their commitment to the story...even when it gets scary, erotic, or convoluted. The result is an incredibly entertaining and though-provoking experience that will leave you wanting to see it again and talk to others about it. The casting is largely from television actors and recognizable faces (no doubt attributed to the fact that the film was originally going to be a television series), revealing and introducing some amazingly talented actors and actresses (Naomi Watts--clearly stretching beyond the matronly parts she has previously played, Laura Elena Harring, Justin Theroux, and Dan Hedaya in the most obvious occurrences).The DVD is an interesting example of the mind of David Lynch. It was his express directive that there be no chapter breaks in the movie. It was also his express directive to disallow additional information beyond a cast list and the trailer. His reasoning is that the additional material detracts from the experience of the film. And in this case, he is right. The additional material would allow the viewer to remove him or herself from the film, reminding them that it all was make-believe and without meaning. In his own way, by starving the viewer of these extra tidbits, Lynch has created even more of an enigma for viewers to question well into the future."
Review and Explanation (Mobius Loop)
Battison | Alexandria, VA United States | 09/12/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Be prepared; if you don't like having to think about a movie, Mulholland Drive isn't for you. It is unlikely that everything would click for a viewer the first time that they watch the movie anyway...although viewing Lost Highway might be a suitable primer.In many ways, Lynch seems to have issued the same challenge to viewers in Mulholland Drive as he did in Lost Highway, a bending of timelines and juxtapositioning of identities. It's as if the director is saying, through Mulholland Drive, "Perhaps I didn't make myself clear to you the first time." For some reason (I don't know -- is it really the lesbian scenes?) the second attempt has been more popular. I find both movies compelling, unsettling, and entertaining.That's the review. Here's an explanation.The knee-jerk response of many reviewers has been that Diane dreams of being Betty, but wakes up to the cold reality of being Diane, and ultimately kills herself. That would make the movie run from Point A to Point B, which is what movies usually do.But the dead Diane appears in Betty's world, and that was my first problem with this tidy explanation. Also, if you think the movie is purely linear, then Diane is psychic, because she dreams of Coco (the landlady) before she ever meets her in reality (the director's mom). Ultimately, Betty's world is no more of a dream than Diane's is; it depends on point of view, like a Mobius Loop. The reason one side is accepted as real is because of where the Mobius Loop is cut: right after Diane "sleeps" (dies). Splice the movie ends together, and you can't tell the "dream" side from the "reality" side. Much of this Mobius Loop is made of cycles:* Betty begets the blue box; the box, once opened, begets Diane and the old couple; the old couple drive Diane to suicide but beget Betty; ad infinitum.* Betty becomes Diane, and Diane becomes Betty -- not just the actresses, but the waitresses, too.* Rita (Laura Elena Herring) of Betty's world coexists with Camilla (Melissa George). In Diane's world, Camilla (Laura Elena Herring), whispers to, and kisses a woman (Melissa George), at the party near the film's end. Maybe that woman should be called Rita. After all, everything else switches.* Camilla (Laura Elena Herring), despite surviving an attempt by the limo driver to kill her, is effectively "eliminated." She has to be replaced. She is replaced by...Camilla (Melissa George). When Betty becomes Diane, Camilla (M.G.) becomes Camilla (L.E.H.). And so on.* Diane falls into the red pillow; Rita falls into the blue box. The Red World is Betty's/Diane's dream come true and Rita's/Camilla's nightmare; the Blue World is Betty's/Diane's nightmare and Rita's/Camilla's dream come true.* Betty's apartment (Aunt Ruth's) is red and yellow; Diane's is blue and green. Many other warm/cool color motifs correspond.* The red singer "dies" on-stage, and is effectively silenced, as the Red World reaches its twilight, and the blue box is discovered. The blue-hair in the balcony cries "Silencio" at the film's end, when the Blue World reaches its twilight: Diane's blue-smoke demise, but also Camilla's demise as well, as she will soon lose her limo ride, her movie role, and her memory. Most importantly, the Silencio theater is a metaphor: What appears real -- a trumpet solo, a singer singing -- is false. In effect, Lynch drops the biggest hint: If you are looking for the reality in this movie, you won't find it."