Movie Review: David Lynch Marathon: Mulholland Dr. (2001)


Editor’s Note: I began this marathon at the beginning of August and since then have been losing momentum at a rapid pace.  My last post in this marathon was on September 10 with my review of Eraserhead.  That film put me in a horrible funk.  I had two films left in the marathon to complete it.  Twin Peaks: Fire Walk Within Me and Mulholland Dr.  I was advised that Twin Peaks would make less sense than most of Lynch’s films since I hadn’t watch the TV show and I decided at the last minute to switch it with his other film Inland Empire. After approximately five minutes I decided that I couldn’t manage it, so here I am jumping to the end with the film everyone reveres Mulholland Dr., enjoy my final review for my very difficult David Lynch Marathon.

The car pulls up on Mulholland Dr. where the driver pulls a pistol on Rita (Laura Harring).  At the same time as this is happening there’s a street drag race occurring and one of the cars crashes into Rita’s car.  She manages to survive and wander off.  Betty (Naomi Watts) comes off the plane and arrives in Hollywood with hopes of being the next great actress, she’s arranged to stay at her Aunt’s apartment where she meets Rita.  Rita has suffered from a loss of memory and Betty wants to help her figure out who she is and the rest of her life.

So I’m sure that many of you who’ve been following my ridiculously extended David Lynch Marathon will know that I’ve had nothing but complaints about Lynch’s insane nature to obscure his narratives, or completely omit them from the filmmaking process, through a lot of odd supernatural additions and completely unexplained characters, and this film is no different.  Somehow you may read the above paragraph and think that if I can manage to write a synopsis that is more than two sentences and sounds like a real movie that this one can’t be as bad as all the others that I’ve bitched and moaned about; well you’re wrong.

This movie makes absolutely no sense, but in a different way than his others.  In many of Lynch’s other films – Eraserhead, Lost Highway and Wild At Heart – you at no point feel like you have a handle on what’s really going on.  However, in this movie for the first two hours you have a handful of moments that make no sense, but overall you’re able to follow the characters of Betty and Rita through their story of seeking fame and seeking the truth to Rita’s past, even though in the back of your mind due to well executed cinematography and sound design you know something isn’t quite right here.  Which is something to commend, but when I leave a movie wondering what the hell happened – and not in a good Inception kind of way – I don’t think that this can be a good reflection on the filmmaker.

I even tweeted about my confusion after the film and got a few responses; here they are for your enjoyment:

After taking a look through the Bill Wyman article ‘Everything you were afraid to ask about “Mulholland Drive”’ (recommended by @filmcave) I found myself more surprised that anything.  I figured that the film was a commentary on Hollywood and women in cinema with the character of Camilla Rhodes (Melissa George).  Even when we see the director, Adam Kesher (Justin Theroux), being pressured into hiring Camilla for the lead role it all feels like Lynch is bickering over some decision that was taken away from him in a previous film – which I wouldn’t know about since I wasn’t paying attention to the news back then.  However, I couldn’t help but laugh at the few questions he asked, like Betty loses a part in “The Sylvia North Story” to Camilla. Who’s Sylvia North?, and all he can say in response is beats us.  It’s how I felt about 80% of the plot of this movie.

The movie just comes off as ridiculously obtuse just for the sake of being obtuse.  It’s like when you’re having a conversation with someone who’s really brilliant and he knows he’s smarter than you so he refuses to explain anything he says just to make you feel stupid.  It’s not funny; it’s just annoying and makes me want to punch him in the face.

IMDB says 8.0/10

Rotten Tomatoes says 81%

I say 4.0/10