Mulholland Drive


My first Lynch experience was Elephant Man, since then I have closely followed his career and enjoyed his  cultural contributions to the world.

It could be said that Mulholland Drive is one of Lynch’s more mainstream films, in the sense that it seems less eccentric and experimental than its predecessors.

twin peaks screenshot
The Lodge in Twin Peaks

When viewing the first episode of Twin Peaks it is hard not to notice that an enormous amount of effort has been put into the artistry of almost every single scene in that episode regarding the set design, camera work, costumes, character creation and not least of all the eccentric dialogue or monologue.

Mulholland Drive is indeed full of such lynchian treasures but for the most part seems to flow as a linear story for three-quarters of the film almost absent of stop/ start brilliant, (as in bright, illuminating and energetic) scenes and abstract characters.

There are a few  OBVIOUS clues,(or scenes like those found in twin
peaks),which allude to an abstract answer to  the mystery woman in the first two-thirds of the film but these tend to come in spurts such as the being behind the wall,
the elderly couple at the airport and the clairvoyant at the apartment.

Mr Roque

It’s this near  linear progression with spurts of obscurity such as Mr Roque in the room with a microphone at the directors meeting that lull the viewer into a sense of security with the story, it leads us to believe that it could be a simple neo noir with a touch of eccentricity, which no doubt  could hold a mainstream, (people who do not understand or are not interested in experimental film),viewers attention.

David lays this foundation to lull us into a false sense of security, the viewer is not frightened away by what could be a run of the mill mystery with a little eccentricity.It is not until two-thirds of the way into the film, once we have been entirely  hooked, (or in my case a tiny bit bored), that the complexity of the  abstract plot unfolds.

Naomi Watts as Betty Elms

I even saw this pattern mirrored by Naomi Watts performance, I swear I saw her acting improve with each scene. In the beginning I found her acting so abhorrent that I wondered why Nicole Kidman hadn’t been cast in her role but as the film progressed she seemed to become more competent  and I would have to draw the conclusion that this was also intentional on her and Lynch’s behalf.

It’s as though her acting ability mirrored that of her character Betty’s progression as she starts out a hopeful from  Deep River, Ontario who hits the big lights of Hollywood.

David Lynch

Of course I would later learn that David had originally intended Mulholland Drive to be a television series and had pitched the idea to ABC who had agreed to a pilot which they viewed and rejected.[2] The series would never be made, (much to my dismay) so Lynch decided to turn it into a film.

Many critics believe Mulholland Drive to be Lynch’s finest work. I strongly disagree and can see why when I watch the film that certain parts of it and the overall feel of it bug the hell out of me.It is to be sure a brilliant film but the fact that it was made for t.v. and rejected by a network seems to play into its creation.

“Now, you will see me one more time if you do good. You’ll see me two more times if you do bad. Goodnight.”-Cowboy

 It’s as though David had taken the networks criticisms to heart and played on the idea of “mainstream” for the most part of this film which obviously worked as,” Roger Ebert  who had given negative or mixed reviews to most of Lynch’s previous films, but awarded the film four stars commented[1], “David Lynch has been working toward Mulholland Drive all of his career, and now that he’s arrived there I forgive him for Wild at Heart (1990) and even Lost Highway (1997). At last his experiment doesn’t shatter the test tubes. The movie is a surrealist dreamscape in the form of a Hollywood film noir, and the less sense it makes, the more we can’t stop watching it.”45][1]- wikipedia

Mulholland Drive is the perfect film for a newcomer to Lynch and experimental filmmaking, it’s non confrontational attitude towards the audience means that it could just be the viewers first step towards dog star man, or even viewing a brilliant classic such as Persona.

The Jitterbug has been danced to, the woman has peeked out from
behind the wall and the Clairvoyant has warned of impending womandanger. Now we see Betty thrust into a film studio after her audition for her aunt’s friends film. It is through the intensity of this busy Hollywood film studio and the blinding visual metaphor when the recording studio is revealed as a box on a film set that Betty seems mesmerized and startled like a deer in the headlights waking from a bad dream. Her awakening seems to catalyze as she gazes into the directors eye’s before she makes a break for it.

This is the beginning of the end for Betty, she is no longer a naive girl from small town U.S.A but  a hollywood resident who is terrified by her yet unknown loss of innocence and broken Hollywood dreams.

The rest of the film is a blast! Thoroughly enjoyable as we watch the mystery  unfold, the groundwork has been laid and the shocking ending abruptly interferes with what could have been one of the most interesting television series ever created.

jitterbug gif

Mulholland Drive was written and directed by David Lynch and won the  Prix de la mise en scène (Best Director Award) at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival, here is a  complete list of the films Awards and Nominations.

Mulholland Drive stars Naomi Watts ,Laura Elena Herring,Melissa George,Justin Theroux,Ann Miller,Dan Hedaya,Marcus Graham,Michael J. Anderson,Monty Montgomery, for a complete list of the cast click here

[1]Mulholland Drive (film)

[2] Mulholland Drive (film)


3 thoughts on “Mulholland Drive

  1. Yeah, I definitely need to see this again. I remember a lot of the crazy stuff that happened and most of the complexities of the characters, but nothing too set-in-stone. Time to change that. Good review.

    1. Thank you. It’s great to see it again although I was watching it in retrospect.

      the complexity of the characters is astounding. I agree, I definitely left a lot out of my review because I didn’t want to give anything away.

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