Mulholland Drive (2001)

R   |    |  Drama, Mystery, Thriller


Mulholland Drive (2001) Poster

After a car wreck on the winding Mulholland Drive renders a woman amnesiac, she and a perky Hollywood-hopeful search for clues and answers across Los Angeles in a twisting venture beyond dreams and reality.

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8/10
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  • Laura Harring and Naomi Watts in Mulholland Drive (2001)
  • Laura Harring and Naomi Watts in Mulholland Drive (2001)
  • Debbie Harry at an event for Mulholland Drive (2001)
  • David Lynch in Mulholland Drive (2001)
  • Naomi Watts in Mulholland Drive (2001)
  • Michael J. Anderson in Mulholland Drive (2001)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


28 February 2005 | BrandtSponseller
8
| Not my favorite Lynch film, but very good and intriguing
After two brief scenes that at first seem unrelated to the rest of the film, we see a dark-haired, obviously rich beauty in the back of a limousine. Her driver stops at an odd location on Mulholland Drive, which is a twisting, thickly wooded two-lane road full of mansions overlooking Los Angeles. Just as her driver and another man in the passenger seat turn around to kill her, two drag racing cars from the opposite direction come crashing into the limo. Only the dark-haired woman survives. She works her way down the ridge to Sunset Boulevard and hides in a vacationing woman's apartment. Shortly after, Betty (Naomi Watts), the vacationing woman's niece, shows up at the apartment and runs into the dark haired woman, who now has amnesia. The bulk of the first part of the film is Betty and the dark haired woman trying to figure out who she is, why people were trying to kill her and why she had thousands of dollars and a strange key in her purse. This is interspersed with oddly surreal threads about Hollywood producers and directors, with occasional forays into a land of hoodlums and prostitutes.

The above may sound a bit complicated and disjointed, but that's not the half of it. The film is constructed so that the meaning will always be open to interpretation. It's basically guaranteed that you will not understand this film and you will not have very much confidence arriving at your own interpretation the first time around. Even if you have a lot of experience with like-minded films--such as Memento (2000), Donnie Darko (2001), The I Inside (2003) and The Butterfly Effect (2004)--you may not understand it on a second viewing, either. The studio was aware of this to the extent that they had director David Lynch write "10 clues to unlocking this thriller" and they put it on the back of the chapter listing insert in the DVD. Lynch being of a particular disposition, these clues are almost as cryptic as the film itself. It doesn't help when trying to figure it out in the early stages that the structure is extremely complex. It takes a very long time to figure out what parts are supposed to be "real" and there is a complex nesting of flashbacks in some sections, with only contextual clues that they're flashbacks.

But is the film worth watching, or worth trying to figure out? That depends on your tastes, obviously. On a surface level, the film is certainly attractive if you are a fan of surrealism, although it will tend to seem a bit slow and overly disjointed to some viewers. But those qualities, and many other surrealist aspects of the film, are typical of Lynch. A prime Lynchian moment is the old couple in the beginning bizarrely smiling almost as if they're alien pod people trying to put on a front. If you're familiar with that style and like it, you'll find much to love here, although in many ways, Mulholland Drive is fairly understated for Lynch. It's also worth noting, for viewers who'll primarily be interested in it or who enjoy it just as much as other aspects, that Mulholland Drive has a quite steamy lesbian scene. It's not gratuitous, although I have no problems with gratuitousness, but is instead an important hinge in the film.

Like all of Lynch's films, it's easy to become enraptured in his unique approach to every aspect of filmic art and his attention to detail. Any serious student of film (including "armchair students"/"cinephiles") should study Mulholland Drive; many will love it. Lynch doesn't let anything pass unmanipulated. He includes brilliant color schemes (such as the plethora of reds and pinks) with important symbolism. He makes unusual use of sound, such as the ringing telephone carrying over into the section of score that follows it (when Betty first arrives at the airport). He directs his actors to deliver their lines in a plethora of bizarre ways, such as his characteristic odd pauses. He lets his odd and surprising sense of humor poke through, such as the name "Winkie's", and the "Hot Dogs--made for Pinks" sign that provides a clue to some of the color symbolism.

Lynch's attention to detail in production design provides important, subtle clues throughout the film to help one unlock the meaning. It's interesting to note that Lynch even apparently demands that the DVD programming be unusual--there are no chapters on the disc; you must either watch the film in real time or fast forward or rewind to get back to particular points.

If the surrealism and veiled meaning of the film are attractive to you, or if you're just fond of "puzzles", then Mulholland Drive is well worth watching for that aspect. There is a fairly accepted interpretation of the film, at least on a broad, generalized level. I won't recount the standard interpretation here--it is worth researching, but only after you've seen the film a couple times and have reached your own conclusions. Many articles and monographs have been written on the film and interpretations; there are even websites dedicated to it.

For my money, however, although I generally love Lynch and find many things about Mulholland Drive attractive, it is not quite a 10 for me, at least not yet (I have a feeling that my score could still rise on subsequent viewings). To me, though, the "twist" aspect of the film is done much better in other works such as The I Inside and The Butterfly Effect. Mulholland Drive is more attractive to me for its surface surrealistic touches, but the plot doesn't carry them as well as some of Lynch's other films.

Still, Mulholland Drive is certainly recommended for the right crowd. If you're serious about film and do not mind having to think about what you watch (as if those two would not necessarily coincide), you shouldn't miss this one.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Adam Kesher smashing the producer's car windshield in with a golf club is a reference to the famous 1994 incident where Jack Nicholson committed the same act. Nicholson's nickname is "Mulholland Man."


Quotes

Rita: What are you doing? We don't stop here.


Goofs

When Rita is walking to after from the accident the cut on the right side of her head disappears and reappears. Also, even though the blood is obviously dry, the blood pattern is completely different each time.


Crazy Credits

The only time we see the full title spelled out is at the end of the end credits; during the opening credits there is only a street sign that says "Mulholland Dr".


Alternate Versions

Some scenes were deleted to shorten the running time of the movie. Some of the missing scenes are:

  • An additional scene of the detectives McKnight and Domgaard in the police station talking about the car crash the previous night on Mulholland Drive.
  • A full scene of dialog with the hit man Joe and the pimp Billy in Pinky's Hot Dog stand with Joe asking about information on the missing woman and about the hot dogs served while the drugged out streetwalker Laney looks on.
  • An scene of the Castigliane limo arriving outside Adam Kesher's house where the goon, Kenny, gets out and talks briefly with Taka, the Japanese gardener in the driveway asking if he has seen Adam recently.
  • A scene of Betty arriving on the studio lot and meeting Martha Johnson outside the producer's office and Wally coming out the front door to meet her and take her inside.
  • An extended scene showing the introduction of Mr. Roque of Vincent Darby entering a large office building and taking an elevator to one of the top floors and asking the receptionist if he could enter Mr. Roque's office.
  • During the scene where Mr. Roque relays the message 'the girl is still missing' to various unseen associates, when the unseen man with the hairy arm on the yellow telephone rings his contact, the original scene was not of a telephone under a lamp with a red shade, but a white speaker phone on a bright blue table and a woman's hand (Camila Rhodes?) answering it, but cutting away before she says anything.
  • The scene of Adam meeting with the executives is longer with him first arriving holding a iron golf club demanding why he has been called away from the golf course to this meeting and Ray giving him a vague explanation to the movie he's filming. The scene ends with the Castigliane brothers leaving first and Adam yelling at the executives over them rigging the casting of the lead actress and about the film being kept locked up in the studio safe.
  • A bit scene where after the bruiser Kenny knocks unconscious Adam's wife and the pool man, he walks around Adam's house and sees Adam's wife's jewelry in the kitchen sink which is overflowing with water. Kenny then is shown breaking all of Adam's golf clubs as payback for trashing the limo and then leaves telling the gangsters in the back of the limo that Adam's not home.
  • There is another scene introducing Wilkins (Scott Coffee) who lives in a studio loft above Betty Elms's apartment where Adam phones him just before his meeting with the Cowboy and telling Wilkins about finding his wife in bed with the pool man, and asks Wilkins if he could come over to stay for a while since he has no money. Wilkins agrees, and after hanging up, he yells at his dog crouched in a corner about relieving himself all over the place.


Soundtracks

I've Told Every Little Star
Written by
Oscar Hammerstein II and Jerome Kern
Performed by Linda Scott
Courtesy of Epic Records
By Arrangement with Celebrity Licensing Inc.

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Drama | Mystery | Thriller

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