Mulholland Dr. (2001)
March 4, 2018 4:53 PM - Subscribe

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.

Movie Mezzanine: Mulholland Dr. opens with a series of images that perfectly set up the fact that you won’t be understanding much of this film. Footage of couples dancing to swing music is overlaid on top of each other, creating a cacophony of imagery that further gets muddled when the blurry, literally shaky image of a woman and her parents smiling together obscures the dancing. And it is after that that we get our first “clue” of sorts to the puzzle: A first-person POV shot of someone–most likely a woman judging from the exhausted breathing noises we hear–burying themselves into the pillows for a night of rest. At this point, it should become clear: Mulholland Dr. is a dream film.

Roger Ebert: "Mulholland Drive" is all dream. There is nothing that is intended to be a waking moment. Like real dreams, it does not explain, does not complete its sequences, lingers over what it finds fascinating, dismisses unpromising plotlines. If you want an explanation for the last half hour of the film, think of it as the dreamer rising slowly to consciousness, as threads from the dream fight for space with recent memories from real life, and with fragments of other dreams--old ones and those still in development.

This works because Lynch is absolutely uncompromising. He takes what was frustrating in some of his earlier films, and instead of backing away from it, he charges right through.

Empire: At a point where the plot seems poised on the brink of resolution, the film suddenly folds in on itself, literally disappearing into a black hole from which it reappears more contrary than ever. That this is, in fact, the twist that binds the threads together probably won't occur to you until long after the credits roll. But then, this isn't a film to be followed in the traditional sense; it's one to let wash over you, one to wallow in.

Rolling Stone: You can do one of two things: Scratch your head and curse Lynch as a freak or realize that what's transpired so far is the dream being experienced by the woman from the first scene, a woman who might be Betty.

Might is the operative word. In the film's final third, as identities shift and the world is thrown out of balance, we are encouraged to link the pieces of the puzzle cunningly devised by Lynch, cinematographer Peter Deming, production designer Jack Fisk and editor Mary Sweeney. The challenge is exhilarating. You can discover a lot about yourself by getting lost in Mulholland Drive. It grips you like a dream that won't let go.

Slant: Mulholland Drive’s final quarter represents Diane’s waking life. If seen as such, her dream world becomes fascinatingly sorted and processed, with a mysterious blue box (not to mention its elusive key) indicating the passage from sleep into reality. Betty disappears, Rita opens the box, and the film’s details become clear: Diane is the struggling actress living in the great Camilla’s shadow; she is victim to her muted desire, shunned upon by a powerful elite whose roles she recasts in dreams. Diane is both tragic and pitiful, projecting her deepest fears and desires into a hypnotic netherworld of wishful half-consciousness, a place where she is able to control the Camilla/Rita paradox. Details delicately vary within Diane’s waking life and Betty’s imaginary world, showcasing Lynch’s profound understanding of the rhythm of dreams: Diane may pay big dollar for a black book that brings her closer to Camilla but Rita, in reality, is the one who is rich. Rage fabulously transforms itself into auto-erotic pleasure when Diane’s final pathetic orgasm becomes the logical accompaniment to the sexual engorgements that often accompany REM sleep. Mulholland Drive is a haunting, selfish masterpiece that literalizes the theory of surrealism as perpetual dream state.

NYTimes: For ''Mulholland Drive'' finally has little to do with any single character's love life or professional ambition. The movie is an ever-deepening reflection on the allure of Hollywood and on the multiple role-playing and self-invention that the movie-going experience promises. That same promise of identity loss extends to the star-making process, in which the star can disappear into other lives and become other people's fantasies. What greater power is there than the power to enter and to program the dream life of the culture. Who needs continuity if you can disappear into a dream?


Why Mulholland Drive is the Greatest Film since 2000

Is ‘Mulholland Drive’ Really the Greatest Film of the 21st Century? (Or How I Learned to Love David Lynch)

Inside the Making of Mulholland Drive, David Lynch's Dark, Freudian Masterpiece

Everything you were afraid to ask about “Mulholland Drive”

David Lynch's Mulholland Drive may be a brilliant movie - but do even its biggest fans know what it's about? We challenged six top cinema critics to explain the plot

David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive" Explained

Locating Mulholland Drive: For this project we wanted to create a guide to understanding this complex film. To do this we put together a movie, “A Map to Mulholland Drive,” which provides a humorous plot summary as well as a more serious analysis of the film's major events and themes. We also created a map which highlights all of the important routes and locations in Mulholland Drive

Why David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive Is a Great Horror Film

Mulholland Dr. defined the modern puzzle-box movie

Senses of Cinema: The Perils of Fantasy: Memory and Desire in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive

Filming locations

Moving Beyond the Dream Theory: A New Approach to 'Mulholland Drive'

In Plain Sight: The Hidden Symbolism in ‘Mulholland Drive’

‘Mulholland Drive’: The Master of the Uncanny’s Greatest Work

Sound and Light in Mulholland Drive

The Remarkable Influence of David Lynch
posted by MoonOrb (8 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
This film is one of my favorites. What I find most compelling about it is how enjoyable each scene is -- minute to minute, it's so entertaining and pleasurable, and at the end, when I try to put it all together, I always find something new in it. It never quite all fits. I'm of the camp that there is no explanation, that it only offers you topics and images.

--Are our lives only stories we tell ourselves? Is our search for identity, like Rita's, doomed?
--Like Betty and Diane, will our good and bad impulses always be impossible to detangle, in the manner of diamonds in pink paint?
--Why is that one dude so picky about espresso?

More than anything else, the focus seems to be on emptiness and loss: movies that will never get made, parts that will never be correctly cast, keys that open nothing, women without names, songs being not sung, bands that aren't there, bank accounts that are empty, silence during a jump scare, probably supernatural itallian men who cannot be pleased when it comes to coffee.

I know I've said there isn't an explanation. That said, thinking of them is super fun, and here's mine.

This movie was originally a spin-off of twin peaks, and I think it's easy to map the same cosmology onto this film. The man behind winkie's is a black lodge spirit, who feeds on suffering. He's made a spell, a blue box, which contains a recording of the hallucinations of the final moments Betty/Diane's life, before she kills herself. Club silencio is the white lodge -- it's filmed in the same theater where the white lodge scenes were filmed in Twin Peaks: the Return. In the club Betty is shown, by a blue-wigged good spirit, a strange kind of recording of a cover Ray Orbison's Crying. I got the idea for this interpretation when I watched a version that subtitled the song. "For you don't love me, And I'll always be crying over you, Crying over you, Yes, now you're gone..." This performance is for Betty's benefit, to show her what's really going on. Like the Rebekah del Rio, Betty is only a recording, miming along, suffering from the loss of love, acting along to something that isn't there any more. She is, in fact, dead, and her suffering is being replayed by the spell of the man behind winkie's. Her hallucinations vanish when the box is opened, and she remembers how she really died, and is allowed to pass on. The woman at club slienco, having helped betty along, gets the final line of the film.

Of course, the problem with that explanation is that it's dumb. Like any other, is that it's much less satisfying than just watching the film.

Anybody else have any theories about it all?
posted by Rinku at 11:35 PM on March 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

Ranked the 28th greatest film of all time on the latest Sight & Sound poll, right after Rashomon. Also the newest film to make the list.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 6:15 AM on March 5, 2018

that scene that just focuses on the dark corner for what feels like an eternity is the most terrified I’ve ever been in a movie theater
posted by roger ackroyd at 8:13 AM on March 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

It's perhaps my favourite Lynch movie, at least one where everything clicked together.

What is it about? I don't know.

This movie was originally a spin-off of twin peaks,
This began as a Audrey in Hollywood of some sorts. I wouldn't disregard the theory of it being in the same universe, or at least being the same side of a different coin.
posted by lmfsilva at 1:30 PM on March 5, 2018

To me it's another dream from the same night as Lost Highway.

I love these films so much.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:01 PM on March 5, 2018

What ever happened to the monster outside the diner? Did it get a movie deal?
posted by sammyo at 7:45 PM on March 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

The plot of Mulholland Drive simply takes a left turn at one point. The plot of Lost Highway is a Moebius strip. Inland Empire, however, is a random walk.
posted by stonepharisee at 11:30 AM on March 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

Did it get a movie deal?

It's actually an uncredited cameo by Harvey Weinstein
posted by Sebmojo at 3:28 AM on March 11, 2018

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