I somewhat regret committing to write a review for Mulholland Drive. Last night, upon opening the pandora box that is the great inter web, I’ve found that there are so many debates in regards to what Mulholland Drive is really about, the amount of articles and websites dedicated to discuss this film is staggering and nausea inducing, and I quickly listed “typing “Mulholland Drive analysis” in my Google search box” as things my future self should never ever do in any circumstances. It’s a long list, organized in the degrees of pain the activity would induce.
And so it is, since a girl needs her 12 hours beauty sleep, I’m taking the high road, the easy road, that is, I shall skip the deep research for this film and provide you with my humble take of this highly debated film. A film that is probably Lynch’s most famous film mainstream-wise, in the top 10 films of the decade list of many film critics and film sites, and of which even Ebert, the reviewer who never likes Lynch’s works, gave a four-star and high accolades.
To the selected few, the ultra exclusive group with willing ears and aptitude to tune out my incessant film ramblings while delivering some automatic nodding every 5 minutes or so (OK, just one person, Hi Miss Kat!), I have often said how Lynch films have a B-film quality, which is in no way meant to be a put down as it is meant as an honest compliment.
And this B-film quality is also why some of Lynch films, particularly Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive, have reminded me of Quentin Tarantino’s films. There are so many clichés scenes and characters. Scenes we’ve seen overused in so many films. Characters we’d be able to guess who and what role they employ without the need of introduction. Both directors would take typical scenes and make them outrageous, take typical characters and make them do and speak wild stuff. And while Tarantino only gives you funny and badass situation, Lynch takes a different turn and makes his films bizarrely funny, weird, mysterious, somewhat surreal and otherworldly, and ultimately captivating.
And so, we have Mulholland Drive, an ode to Hollywood, the good and the bad, complete with its standard accoutrement of Hollywood stock characters, the struggling artist, the successful artist, the director whose pride and integrity are crushed by the powers that be, and let’s not forget the lovable outliers swirling around the edges, the hit man, the mobsters, your typical diner and its dwellers, the rich wife and the pool guy, the old has-been actress and producer that represent the good old days. David Lynch takes these characters and have them lived in his world, where weird and mysterious things happen, where things don’t go as the characters or us, the audience, expected.
The story, if I must explain – although I don’t feel the benefit to, revolves around Betty, an aspiring actress who one day meets Rita, a femme fatale, a girl with amnesia, a load of cash, and a blue key, and while they are trying to find Rita’s identity, we are also presented with Adam the director, who is pressured by the mobster to cast an unknown girl as the lead actress in his next film.
The film is delivered in a non-linear way, and the majority of the film feels like vignettes of somewhat unrelated stories, but we all sense there’s mystery lurking beneath, and there’s a key, a blue key maybe, that would help us solve these jigsaw puzzles. But really, does it matter if the mystery remains unsolved? Because the vignettes itself are fascinating and I found myself glued to the screen wondering what shenanigans Lynch would give me next. To name a few, Lynch gives us a hilarious conversation between the director and The Cowboy in a deserted ranch, Betty’s mesmerizing audition, an unintended mass murder by an incompetent hit man, an outrageous face off between the director, the cheating wife, and the bulky pool guy, and meanwhile we keep asking, who is Diane Selwyn?
I wish the film could go on longer because I was thoroughly entertained, and Mr. Wiki, my trusty friend, has kindly informed me that it was indeed meant to go longer. Mulholland Drive was originally intended for an open-ended TV series but unfortunately didn’t receive a green light by the executives. Determined not to deprive us from his masterpiece, Lynch decided to make it a feature film and came up with an ending that is perfect for it. And boy, what an ending it is!
>>> For those who hate spoilers, this would be a perfect time to close your eyes count to 3 while scrolling down, because I’m about to discuss the ending. <<<<
The ending – at least what the majority thinks as the ending – seems to suggest that the first 100+ minutes of the film is the dream of Diane Sawyer, the real world Betty, who is unable to cope with the bitter nightmare of her real life, and may have taken a few or more sleeping pills to get away from it.
Dream is a complicated machine, churning an illusion made of our hope, desire, fear, imagination and all those suppressed memories of the past. In her dream, Diane begins with a rearranged version of her reality that fits her hope and desire, but unfortunately, as much as she wants, she can’t control the way of the dream, it goes to the unwanted territory and soon or later, she has to wake up from her deep slumber.
Many have complained about the ending, they feel as if they are being cheated and the film has taken an easy way out. But this film is not the kind of film who gives a twist ending just for the sake of surprising the audience and/or to resolve matters easily. Observe how the vignettes are being told, the languid pacing, the loose ends and the many weird characters that appear and disappear without explanation (the freakish godfather, the spooky clairvoyant, and The Cowboy). They feel surreal, otherworldly; they feel like stuffs made of dreams. And if we are to observe the body of works of Lynch, isn’t he one who is transfixed by the idea of dreams, nightmares and subconsciousness?
>>>>> Hi there spoilers’ haters, this point forward is free of spoilers! <<<<<
Of course, the analysis above is only one possible explanation of the film, I am quite content with it, and even if it’s not as simple as I think it is, it doesn’t matter, I don’t need to know what the film is about to enjoy it.
By the way, if you’re still unconvinced to check this film, the following reason should be enough to seal the deal, watch it for the erotic lesbian kissing scene, it’s fantastic, so fantastic that it has taken a life of its own and becomes part of a pop culture. Surely you don’t want to miss that!
Lastly, for those who are still hard-pressed to solve Mulholland Drive’s mystery, let me warn you that curiosity kills the cat and knowledge is overrated, it is really better just to experience the film, but if you’re still undeterred, you can review and weigh all of the possible theories and explanations here: http://www.mulholland-drive.net/studies/theories.htm
Voila, and I’m out!
English with English subs