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Mulholland Drive Movie Review

Mulholland Drive [Mulholland Dr.] (2001)

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Written by: David Lynch
Directed by: David Lynch
Starring: Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Justin Theroux, Robert Forster, Michael J. Anderson, Mark Pellegrino
Rated: R
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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.

This movie is captivating in a way so few movies are. You watch this and feel like you’re on the verge of piecing it together, you just need to watch again to figure out the puzzle. It’s a difficult balance to explain so little, but make it seem like all the scenes could formulate a complete movie. It’s a movie about Hollywood; the naive dreams and the harsh realities. This is Lynch, so it’s a weird movie, but it’s a story about broken dreams told in a twisted way.
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It’s not easy feat to create a movie simultaneously confusing and engrossing. Many have failed, but Lynch’s convoluted story telling may very well have peaked with this movie. The first time I watched this years ago, I scoured the internet for theories and explanations. While many claim it’s all a dream, that doesn’t quite do justice to the themes. This is a movie about broken dreams and people.

This was one of those movies where I had never seen anything like it. What happened? What did it mean?

After an accident, Rita (Laura Harring) is amnesiac which explains why she enters a random house. We then get a non sequitur scene with two men at a restaurant talking about a dream. This scene is one of my all time favorites. The anticipation and tension it creates is off the charts. This scene is a clue on how to read the movie, really most things we can’t understand are. There is reality and dreams and in this movie they cross.

Laura Harring, Naomi Watts play Rita, Betty

Betty (Naomi Watts) is the Hollywood hopeful just arrived in Los Angeles. It’s almost fake, how people react to Betty. This older couple treats her like she’s already a star, but we follow this couple after they leave and the car ride after reveals the edges of the veneer. This entire movie toys with what’s real. The underlying question is what is and isn’t. Betty finds Rita in her apartment and isn’t concerned. It’s an odd reaction for reality, but what we’re seeing isn’t reality. Why does Camilla Rhodes look like Betty?Betty seems to naive for Hollywood, yet somehow she’s already getting attention.

Another subplot is director Adam Kesher (Justin Theroux) being forced by mafia types to cast Camilla Rhodes.

We never quite know what’s going on, but it is some kind of metaphor about broken dreams and reality versus hope. The allure of Hollywood is a reality, it’s what brought Diane to the city. Her fantasy world is Betty coming to the city and instantly being charismatic and up for roles. In this fantasy Diane has cast Camilla as Rita, a famous star relegated to playing the part of ignorant and helpless. Diane wrestles with what she hoped and what she experienced in the story that unfolds.

With Kesher, it’s about connections and force. Why does Camilla get cast in roles? It’s a plot by the mafia so that actresses like Diane don’t get a chance. That’s her excuse for her failures to land that lead role. During this movie, we see reality creeping around the edges. This story never feels real, and that’s the point. Betty and Rita try to find Diane Selwyn. Who is Diane Selwyn? We don’t know, but we see who Diane wants to be, and that’s Betty. 

Another clue is the theater with the singer who falls down, but we still hear her singing. This is the disconnect in the movie of what we see and what’s actually happening. The blue box finally ends the fantasy.



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