Retro Review: Mulholland Drive

Written: October 27, 2001

Let’s say you are moving to LA to stay at your aunt’s apartment while she is away on holiday.

You gingerly unpack your bags but you notice a pair of panty hose lying on the floor of the master bedroom and an unknown naked woman in your aunt’s shower. What would you do?

Well the woman could be a friend of your aunt’s and when she exclaims that she doesn’t remember anything at all, the mystery does thicken.

This happens to the main character of David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive”. Her name is Betty (Naomi Watts) and the woman in her aunt’s apartment is named Rita (Laura Elena Harring). The two girls bond together to try to make sense of Rita’s predicament.

“Mulholland Drive” is a pleasant and interesting film when twisted director David Lynch (“Twin Peaks”) isn’t trying to hard to weird us out. Lynch is famous for placing really strange and bewildering characters and situations into his films.

The critically acclaimed “Twin Peaks” TV series was Lynch’s crown jewel and it was the perfect opportunity for him to use these kinds of angles.

The sad thing is that after “Twin Peaks” ended, Lynch never gave up that sort of filmmaking and his quality of films has suffered.

If you look at David Lynch’s early career with films like “Elephant Man (‘80)”, “Dune (’84)”, and “Blue Velvet (’86)”, you can see his transition into the twisted arena that was “Twin Peaks”.

1986’s Blue Velvet was the beginning of the transition but that film was extremely thought provoking and stimulating and didn’t alienate the audience.

“Mulholland Drive” is very interesting to watch just because the two lead actresses are amazing finds. Watts plays a naïve, innocent blonde, which plays perfectly off Harring’s dark, mysterious brunette. Each woman envelops her own character with passion and energy. I will be looking forward to seeing these two again in other projects.

The fault of the film lies a lot in how Lynch brings forth the conclusion to Rita’s mystery. It’s off putting and I am not sure a lot of moviegoers will figure out the final result after the film concludes.

What is interesting is that last year’s “Memento” left the audience with the same reaction but that aspect in turn electrified audiences. It will be interesting to see if Lynch can accomplish that same query. My guess is it won’t.

This film has been talked a lot about because of its “lesbian” content and if it’s appropriate to the plot and the characters or not. That is quite a gray-line.

The scenes accent the girl’s fondness for each other and do have a connection to the film’s conclusion.

On the other hand, you do have to ponder if they’re gratuitous because they aren’t heavily supported in the plot. Where does the two girl’s affection for each other really blossom?

But a lot of these skeptics and cinema-analysts have to remember we are talking about a “David Lynch” movie here.

(2.5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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