Recently, BBC released a list of top 100 films of 21st century, and surprisingly to many, including myself, Mulholland Drive received the top spot. I had watched it before but kinda felt that this was not the correct decision by the BBC panel. So, decided to give it another go..
A dark-haired woman (Laura Elena Harring) is left amnesiac after a car crash. She wanders the streets of Los Angeles in a daze before taking refuge in an apartment. There she is discovered by Betty (Naomi Watts), a wholesome Midwestern blonde who has come to the City of Angels who’s staying in her absent Aunt’s apartment and seeking fame as an actress.
Together, the two attempt to solve the mystery of Rita’s true identity, by searching through Rita’s faded memories, climbing in through a bedroom window to find a rotting corpse.
As they try to piece her life back together, the movie introduces a barrage of other characters. Some relevant, some not so…
Having told you all of that, I’ve basically explained nothing. The movie is hypnotic; we’re drawn along as if one thing leads to another, but nothing leads anywhere, and that’s even before the characters start to fracture and recombine like flesh caught in a kaleidoscope.
Most people who did not like Mulholland Drive say they didn’t like it because it was too “Lynch-y”. That it didn’t have a story and it was just meant to confuse you. But I would argue that is farther from the truth. Mulholland Drive does have a stable plot, it does have a meaning, it does have a story.
Lynch’s themes are wild and unconventional: dreams materialised; crazy thought bubbles brought to life.
It might not be the best example, but Mulholland Drive is kind of like Inception. It’s a dream story within reality. Mulholland Drive isn’t just a movie that was supposed to confuse you, and if you understand the plot, you see that Lynch wanted to show themes of how actresses are really treated by the industry, the ties between love and drugs, what the lust for fame will do to a person, etc.
I see Mulholland Drive as a movie that really maximizes the potential of filmmaking, a movie that can only exist as a movie, something that justifies the entire medium really.
The idea can’t be portrayed with same conviction through a book, the same reason that Fight Club is considered superior than the book…
The film is undoubtedly challenging. Interesting plot tangents are cut off like cancerous limbs; characters appear and disappear. Late in the running time, after a scene that appears to show her waking from a dream, the protagonist morphs, unexplained, from the optimistic Betty to a haunted-looking, failed actress named Diane.
Its dream-like qualities give rise to many confusing and unexplained things that naturally encourage interpretation. But as critic Roger Ebert noted : “There is no explanation. There may not even be a mystery.”
Honestly, I still do not completely agree with BBC’s list, but I do understand their point of view much better now..
This is a movie to surrender yourself to. If you require logic, see something else. “Mulholland Drive” works directly on the emotions, like music. Individual scenes play well by themselves, as they do in dreams, but they don’t connect in a way that makes sense… Again, like dreams.
The way you know the movie is over is that it ends. And then you tell a friend, “I saw the weirdest movie last night.” Just like you tell them you had the weirdest dream…