Mulholland Drive


Directed by: David Lynch
Written by:David Lynch
Starring: Justin Theroux, Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Ann Miller
Released: January 31, 2002
Grade: A+

What happens when you wake up from a dream?  You usually remember only pieces of it and have no idea where it began or why you dreamt it.  That’s the best way to describe David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive.  It makes no sense and everyone has a different interpretation.  This is an historic, landmark film that will be studied for years to come.

The film begins with a lady (Harring) about to be shot in a limo high on Mulholland Drive.  A car from the opposite direction then crashes into the limo.  Shaken, the lady makes her way down the mountain and after spending the night in a garden, sneaks into a swanky apartment the next day.

The same day, an actress named Betty (Watts) moves into the apartment and finds the lady in the shower.  Betty asks what she is doing but the lady does not even know her own name.  Making up the name Rita, she can only recall a car accident on Mulholland Drive.  Checking her handbag for identification, she finds $50,000 cash and a blue key.  How did that money get there and what is it for?

Terribly frightened, Rita then remembers a name - Diane Selwyn.  They track down her name in the phone book and decide to pay a visit to see if Diane can identify who Rita actually is.  En route, Betty stops at an audition and makes a dazzling impression on the casting agent.  She’s only just moved to Hollywood from Ontario because she’s always “dreamt” of becoming an actress.

When they reach Diane Selwyn’s house they find her dead.  They then return to Betty’s apartment and make passionate love.  Rita then wakes at 2am and the two travel to a nightclub where they witness a bizarre show.  Finding a mysterious blue box in Betty’s handbag, they again return to Betty’s apartment to unlock the box with the blue key from the handbag.  And from there, it goes nuts...

I’ve read varying reports on the web to help understand the final third of the film.  To avoid revealing secrets, please do not continue reading this paragraph if you don’t want it spoilt.  Here’s my interpretation.  The film doesn’t begin until the final 40 minutes.  Betty is actually Diane Selwyn, a struggling actress who wants to be a star but lacks the talent.  She is sleeping with a Hollywood starlet named Camilla Rhodes who manages to get her small parts in some of her films.  Camilla then leaves Diane for the director of her latest film, Adam Kesher (Theroux).  Feeling her career is finished, she hires a hitman and Camilla is killed.  Regretting her actions, she then masturbates and creates her dream world - one in which she is the starlet and where Camilla is still by her side (this is the first two thirds of the film).  Following this, she takes her own life.

My great simplification in describing the film doesn’t do it true justice.  Director David Lynch (Twin Peaks) originally made this film as a pilot which would become a television series.  The TV series was rejected (probably because the executives couldn’t understand it) and so Lynch chose to release it as a movie.  On its initial screening, the film won best director at the Cannes Film Festival.  Since then, it’s picked up awards from the critics society’s of Boston, Los Angeles and New York.  It also won best picture from the National Society Of Film Critics and was nominated for a Golden Globe.

Australian actress Naomi Watts gives the best performance of the year as Diane/Betty.  Some audience members failed to recognise both roles were played by Watts which is the ultimate tribute to any actor.  Lynch hasn’t used a well-known cast but has certainly drawn wonderful performances from them to suit his mind-blowing script and direction.