Mulholland Drive (France/USA; 146min.)


directed by: David Lynch
starring: Justin Theroux, Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Ann Miller
Mulholland Drive
 
Bob says: "I think MULHOLLAND DRIVE brings Lynch back, at least part way, to the dark obsessions of his earlier work: we are affected by (and in return, we affect) forces no one can understand, our hidden fears have real (?) substance, there is a very dark underside to absolutely everything, and perhaps most importantly, it is impossible to try to sift Ďdreamí and Ďrealityí into separate containers Ė all experience and thought are mixed together, circling back onto themselves and all others at once. Pull a string, and youíll tighten some knots, loosen others, and probably create a thousand or so new ones.

There are a few elements here that are clearly echoes of Lynchís earlier work: an early shot draws us into something (Iím not sure what) dark and labyrinthine, as did the shots of Henryís head in ERASERHEAD and the ear in BLUE VELVET(and interestingly, we do not see light erase darkness at the end this time around); a frightening, silent character that pulls strings (fate?), but itís never clear why, or even whether he has control over his actions; the use of heavy curtains as a visual motif to indicate a place where something beyond comprehension by the rest of us is going on, and of course, the idea of light and dark doppelgangers. There are also a few moments when it looks like Lynch is going to bring in some of my favorite elements from the earlier films, but then he fails to do so: when Adam goes to the corral to meet the Cowboy, he watches an overhead lamp flicker for a time. This refers directly to the climactic scenes of both ERASERHEAD and BLUE VELVET, where the release of emotional and dramatic tension is expressed by electricity getting out of control, but thatís not what happens here at all. However, the lights do flicker quite a bit in Betty/Dianeís final scene.

I think itís a mistake for Lynch to have set this film and LOST HIGHWAY in Los Angeles. In his earlier work, he pointed out that the ugliness that lies below the surface is everywhere. That message carries so much more power when itís shown to us in a place like Lumberton or Twin Peaks, but LA? Thereís no irony in telling us that at all. Moreover, placing a story like this within the context of the film industry is a bit obvious.

I also had a problem with the TV feel of the film, especially for the first hour or so. Yes, I know about the fact that MULHOLLAND DRIVE was originally created for TV, but was refused by the network and reworked for a cinematic release. But thereís just a bit too much camp here, and I donít think it serves any real purpose, and I think he could have just cut out a lot of the minor characters, who probably would have appeared on the TV show occasionally, but here are only seen in passing. I have to wonder about the casting of so many people whose names show up on lists of has-beens and one-hit-wonders: Ann Miller, Chad Everett, Michael Des Barres, Billy Ray Cyrus, and that guy from the Pathmark commercials in NY. Is Lynch saying something about the entertainment industry using people up and spitting them out, or is he just having a bit of campy fun?

Sorry if these thoughts are a bit of a jumble. That wasnít my intention, but I guess it does sort of fit in with some of the ideas Iíve expressed here. Itís not at all clear to me whether I actually liked MULHOLLAND DRIVE, but itís definitely got my brain sparking up. Probably the most positive thing I can say about it is that I knew as soon as the closing credits rolled that I was going to have to see it again.
 
Diane says: "I am a sometime Lynch fan (love ERASERHEAD and THE STRAIGHT STORY, pretty fond of BLUE VELVET, uninterested in TWIN PEAKS, and glad only that THE GRANDMOTHER was able to give birth to ERASERHEAD). As the movie ended -- no, actually halfway point I thought--"This movie is just TERRIBLE."

Well, I have some appreciation of it after reading your comments. But as of now, my overall response is still annoyance: too long, too many characters, a TV look.... I'm not interested in Hollywood, the light-dark thing turns me off. So much for personal taste.... It seems that appreciation of this film requires knowing Lynch's favorite themes. What would it be like to see this without having seen BLUE VELVET and others?"
 
Jim says: "I liked MULHOLLAND DRIVE and was always entertained-never bored. But, I didn't understand it. Are we supposed to be able to understand a David Lynch Film? In my opinion Lynch has a movie bag of tricks which he shakes up and dumps out and we have a film. Then, he puts it all back in the bag, shakes it up, dumps it out again for another film."
 
Laura says: "After the linear THE STRAIGHT STORY, writer/director David Lynch is back in the weird world of nightmares with this cautionary tale of dashed dreams and lost love. Lynch fans should rejoice as MULHOLLAND DRIVE is his best film since BLUE VELVET." 5 cats
For Laura's complete review: "http://www.reelingreviews.com/mulhollanddrive.htm"
 
Michael says: "Ah, David Lynch. I'm so glad that there are filmmakers like Lynch around who, whether their films succeed or fail, are at least trying to do something different.

I thoroughly enjoyed MULHOLLAND DRIVE, and took the more straightforward interpretation, which wasn't all that straightforward that mixes a dream with some flashback to tell a mind-bending story of the revenge of a lover spurned and wish-fulfillment. (Scot had a completely different take, that was even more surreal and out-there that I really enjoyed as well.) In fact, my favorite films are ones that can be completely reinterpreted and still have things hang together. And what's more, I spent a nice amount of time afterwards admiring how well constructed the film was even when you take the more straightforward interpretation. Lynch really doesn't miss a trick.

Visually and aurally, Lynch does some really fine work. There are some fantastic scenes in MULHOLLAND DRIVE that just took my break away, and they all had to do with lighting. Lynch also has a unique way of making everyday objects menacing. Naomi Watts is really terrific as Betty/Diane.

I am confused at why Robert Forster is listed in the pre-film credits when he's only in one very brief scene. I'm also confused as to why Justin Theroux gets top billing.

All in all an entertaining ride that really made me think afterwards as well." 4 1/2 cats
 

Nathaniel says "I'm still formulating my opinion on this as well. Most people will need a second time around I think . Although I'm not sure that too many people will make it through their first time. I saw it in an admittedly mainstream/almost touristy theater near Times Square and there were a lot of disgruntled customers. Ah, but that's neither here nor there...

I am not a diehard Lynch fan in general but I was obsessive about TWIN PEAKS and also loved THE STRAIGHT STORY. It was fun to see him revisiting/reworking many of his images and trademark themes....it seems like he hits just about everyone of his projects here.

Bob wonders if Lynch is saying something about the entertainment industry using people up and spitting them out by his use of entertainment "has-beens" in the cast. That, I thought, was EXACTLY what the film was about... the entertainment industry's abuse of actors. Actors ...or I should say more specifically "actresses" being discardable, replaceable, their emotional well being irrelevant. I thought it was a pretty bleak statement about Hollywood misogyny. But it wasn't one sided either. The actors are also alarmingly self abused. "Rita" has amnesia and doesn't know who she is... and "Betty" (admittedly on a less literal level) doesn't know herself either... noone here gets away clean. Lynch pinpoints the treachery from within the victims ranks -everyone fighting for their own scraps from the table...and the spinelessness of the director was an interesting touch as well. Some of it (specifically the randomness of studio decisionmaking and the shutting down of production are probably metacommentary on the very film you're sitting there watching.)

It's unquestionably a very wierd film. Wierd even by Lynchian standards. Lynch's masterful creativity with sound (Few directors ever have understood its power as well.) is present as are the unusually hard to read performances. I've seen this before in Lynch films. Actors will seem stilted and overly stylized and then the performance will just lock into place at some point and become unexpectedly moving or clear. The labyrinthine narrative , full of Twin Peaks nightmarishness , is also pretty intense in the last hour. If you like Lynch it's a must see. Otherwise..."

Nathaniel's complete review: "http://www.members.tripod.com/filmbitch/Reviews/mulhollanddr.html"