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Mulholland Dr.

Mulholland Dr.

Genders: Crime, Thriller, Drama, Mystery

Director: David Lynch

Writer: David Lynch

Actors: Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Justin Theroux, Ann Miller

Year: 2001
Run time: 2h 27min
IMDB score: 7.9
Updated: 3 years ago

Movie infomation

Movie name: Mulholland Dr.

Genders: Crime, Thriller, Drama, Mystery

Imdb Score: 7.9

Runtime: 2h 27min

Released: 26 Oct 2001

Director: David Lynch

Writer: David Lynch

Actors: Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Justin Theroux, Ann Miller

Box Office: $7.1M

Company: Universal Focus


Imdb Link

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This is why this movie is brilliant...

10/10 10/10


This is one of the best movies ever made and I am not saying that because I am being fooled by the seemingly nonsensical presentation. Those who dislike the film because they don't understand the story often criticize those who are praising the film by saying that they are assuming its genius because they don't understand it. I don't view this movie as very allegorical. To me, it is a story with a beginning, middle and end. People become confused by the film because they expect it to have a deep, philosophical meaning that they are to interpret from the allegedly meaningless scenes. I feel they fail to realize that the crypticness comes from a chopped-up and rearranged plot combined with a very long and rather explanatory fantasy sequence and not from a chaos of visual allegory. Because of the limitation of length, I will try to keep this short and to the point and touch on the major concepts.

The general plot: Diane moves to L.A. after jitterbug contest to get into acting. At an audition, she meets Camilla with whom she falls in love. Diane becomes enraged with jealousy since Camilla sleeps with other men and women. Diane discovers the other man (the director) at a film shoot and discovers the other woman (a random blond) at the engagement party for Camilla and the director. Motivated by her rage and possessiveness, Diane hires a hit man to kill Camilla. After that is done, she is overcome by loneliness and slips into an unconscious fantasy world where she lives the life she wants to. Diane is then awakened. In her conscious state she is haunted by what she has done.

The significance of the fantasy: The film starts out, after the credits, with a 1st person p.o.v. shot depicting somebody collapsing onto a bed and slipping into unconsciousness. This is where Diane's fantasy starts. The accident is there as an excuse for her to "bring back" her dead girlfriend and justify the fantasy life. She depicts her girlfriend as meek and innocent because that is what she wished she was. In the meantime, she acts like everything is "like in the movies" because she has an escapist personality. She also, in a sense, kills herself off and assumes the identity of a waitress named Betty at a diner. The story revolving around the director is a direct result of her feeling that he was in someway victimized in reality just as she was and "convinces" herself that he was forced to choose Camilla. It was also an unconscious expression of the lack of control she felt during the party. Camilla Rhoades in the fantasy is actually the random blond from the engagement party. She hated her so much that she turned her into Camilla and made the ultimate antagonist. She then took the real Camilla and turned her into a perfect, submissive out-of-the-movies girlfriend and used Rita Hayworth as an inspiration. She also paints the hit man as a very clumsy and incapable person to further justify the survival of Camilla. Her fantasy world, unfortunately for her, was a search for Diane which ended up being herself and made the dreamworld die by taking her through a series of reminders of reality. The first reminder was Club Silencio which chanted that "there is no band" and the "instruments" you hear are not really there; this is a metaphor for the fantasy. She begins to shake violently because it shakes her perception of her surroundings. The other reminder is the blue box... Actually, the blue box is not the reminder itself (more of a Pandora's Box, really), but the blue key that opens the box. The blue key reminds her of the actual death of Camilla because it is what the hit man said would show up when it was done. Along with having love, this entire creation of hers is an escape from reality by living in the idealized Hollywood that she expected to be part of when she arrived.

This is a story showing the psychology of a very troubled woman who lost a dream. It is not series of random things specifically designed to disturb and it is not a cryptic philosophical message. It is an unfortunate chunk of the human condition that is presented beautifully.

However, ultimately this is all my opinion. I may be way off. Or it may not be intended to mean any one thing. There are many who disagree with me. Great! Afterall, why does it have to mean anything? Why can't it just be a statement in itself? What if coherent, sensible narratives are shackles for artistic expression? Peter Greenaway, for example, has spent many words eloquently supporting that idea by such statements as "I would argue that if you want to write narratives, be an author, be a novelist, don't be a film maker. Because I believe film making is so much more exciting in areas which aren't primarily to do with narrative." And where is the written rule that everything must be immediately understandable with only one possible interpretation? There is no such rule because the clarity of the movie is unrelated to the art of it. "I didn't understand it!" So...? "Mulholland Dr.," story or not, affects the viewers, harasses them, drags them, awes them, lulls them. The way it lends itself to interpretation is amazing. It never gets old. It never loses its luster. Its visuals are always effective and beautiful. It is cinematic perfection no matter what. Enjoy.

5 years ago

Not my favorite Lynch film, but very good and intriguing

8/10 After two brief scenes that at first seem unrelated to the rest of the film, we see a dark-haired, obviously rich beauty in the back of a limousine. Her driver stops at an odd location on Mulholland Drive, which is a twisting, thickly wooded two-lane road full of mansions overlooking Los Angeles. Just as her driver and another man in the passenger seat turn around to kill her, two drag racing cars from the opposite direction come crashing into the limo. Only the dark-haired woman survives. She works her way down the ridge to Sunset Boulevard and hides in a vacationing woman's apartment. Shortly after, Betty (Naomi Watts), the vacationing woman's niece, shows up at the apartment and runs into the dark haired woman, who now has amnesia. The bulk of the first part of the film is Betty and the dark haired woman trying to figure out who she is, why people were trying to kill her and why she had thousands of dollars and a strange key in her purse. This is interspersed with oddly surreal threads about Hollywood producers and directors, with occasional forays into a land of hoodlums and prostitutes.

The above may sound a bit complicated and disjointed, but that's not the half of it. The film is constructed so that the meaning will always be open to interpretation. It's basically guaranteed that you will not understand this film and you will not have very much confidence arriving at your own interpretation the first time around. Even if you have a lot of experience with like-minded films--such as Memento (2000), Donnie Darko (2001), The I Inside (2003) and The Butterfly Effect (2004)--you may not understand it on a second viewing, either. The studio was aware of this to the extent that they had director David Lynch write "10 clues to unlocking this thriller" and they put it on the back of the chapter listing insert in the DVD. Lynch being of a particular disposition, these clues are almost as cryptic as the film itself. It doesn't help when trying to figure it out in the early stages that the structure is extremely complex. It takes a very long time to figure out what parts are supposed to be "real" and there is a complex nesting of flashbacks in some sections, with only contextual clues that they're flashbacks.

But is the film worth watching, or worth trying to figure out? That depends on your tastes, obviously. On a surface level, the film is certainly attractive if you are a fan of surrealism, although it will tend to seem a bit slow and overly disjointed to some viewers. But those qualities, and many other surrealist aspects of the film, are typical of Lynch. A prime Lynchian moment is the old couple in the beginning bizarrely smiling almost as if they're alien pod people trying to put on a front. If you're familiar with that style and like it, you'll find much to love here, although in many ways, Mulholland Drive is fairly understated for Lynch. It's also worth noting, for viewers who'll primarily be interested in it or who enjoy it just as much as other aspects, that Mulholland Drive has a quite steamy lesbian scene. It's not gratuitous, although I have no problems with gratuitousness, but is instead an important hinge in the film.

Like all of Lynch's films, it's easy to become enraptured in his unique approach to every aspect of filmic art and his attention to detail. Any serious student of film (including "armchair students"/"cinephiles") should study Mulholland Drive; many will love it. Lynch doesn't let anything pass unmanipulated. He includes brilliant color schemes (such as the plethora of reds and pinks) with important symbolism. He makes unusual use of sound, such as the ringing telephone carrying over into the section of score that follows it (when Betty first arrives at the airport). He directs his actors to deliver their lines in a plethora of bizarre ways, such as his characteristic odd pauses. He lets his odd and surprising sense of humor poke through, such as the name "Winkie's", and the "Hot Dogs--made for Pinks" sign that provides a clue to some of the color symbolism.

Lynch's attention to detail in production design provides important, subtle clues throughout the film to help one unlock the meaning. It's interesting to note that Lynch even apparently demands that the DVD programming be unusual--there are no chapters on the disc; you must either watch the film in real time or fast forward or rewind to get back to particular points.

If the surrealism and veiled meaning of the film are attractive to you, or if you're just fond of "puzzles", then Mulholland Drive is well worth watching for that aspect. There is a fairly accepted interpretation of the film, at least on a broad, generalized level. I won't recount the standard interpretation here--it is worth researching, but only after you've seen the film a couple times and have reached your own conclusions. Many articles and monographs have been written on the film and interpretations; there are even websites dedicated to it.

For my money, however, although I generally love Lynch and find many things about Mulholland Drive attractive, it is not quite a 10 for me, at least not yet (I have a feeling that my score could still rise on subsequent viewings). To me, though, the "twist" aspect of the film is done much better in other works such as The I Inside and The Butterfly Effect. Mulholland Drive is more attractive to me for its surface surrealistic touches, but the plot doesn't carry them as well as some of Lynch's other films.

Still, Mulholland Drive is certainly recommended for the right crowd. If you're serious about film and do not mind having to think about what you watch (as if those two would not necessarily coincide), you shouldn't miss this one.

5 years ago

Where does it begin and end??

10/10 Hitchcock would be proud of this movie. Even when nothing happens, it is suspenseful. Director David Lynch overuses a few cheap thrill tricks here and there, but he intersperses them with other cinematographic techniques to keep it from becoming obtuse.

Altogether surreal, this movie is like waking up and remembering most of a dream but not enough to make it sensible. I am still trying to figure it all out and will probably have to see it again to catch things I missed and which may help me understand it better. It is a very detailed plot that very slowly comes together, so you must be patient and pay attention. Get your bathroom trip out of the way before it starts. And yet, the plot is overshadowed by the theme, the mood, the character development, and the filming techniques.

The dual roles of the main actress, Naomi Watts, showcase her enormous talent. That is, when I could get my eyes off of her co-star. What an acting pair.

Lynch surprises throughout the movie with unusual camera angles, the length/timing of editing cuts, jumping back and forth between scenes. Combined with smart use of music and sounds, it all helps to build suspense in our minds, doubtless a major objective of the director. Well, he kept me on the edge of my seat, even had me talking to the actors to be careful here, and not be so naive there. You know, the kind of stuff you want to smack your kids for doing at the movies.

5 years ago

My views on why Mulholland Drive is a hair-raisingly good movie

10/10 There's a sign on The Lost Highway that says:


(but you already knew that, didn't you?)

Since there's a great deal of people that apparently did not get the point of this movie, I'd like to contribute my interpretation of why the plot makes perfect sense. As others have pointed out, one single viewing of this movie is not sufficient. If you have the DVD of MD, you can "cheat" by looking at David Lynch's "Top 10 Hints to Unlocking MD" (but only upon second or third viewing, please.) ;)

First of all, Mulholland Drive is downright brilliant. A masterpiece. This is the kind of movie that refuse to leave your head. Not often are the comments on the DVDs very accurate, but Vogue's "It gets inside your head and stays there" really hit the mark.

David Lynch deserves praise for creating a movie that not only has a beautifully stylish look to it - cinematography-wise, has great acting (esp. Naomi Watts), a haunting soundtrack by Badalamenti, and a very dream-like quality to it -- but on top of it all it also manages to involve the viewer in such a way that few movies have before. (After all, when is the last time you saw a movie that just wouldn't leave your mind and that everyone felt compelled to talk and write about, regardless of whether they liked it or hated it?)

Allright, enough about all that, it's time to justify those statements.

Most people that have gone through some effort to try to piece the plot together will have come to the conclusion that the first half of the picture is an illusion/a dream sequence.

Of course, that's too bad for all those trying to make sense of the movie by expecting "traditional" methods in which the story is laid out in a timely, logic and linear manner for the viewer. But for those expecting that, I urge you to check the name of the director and come back again. ;)

MD is the story of the sad demise of Diane Selwyn, a wannabe-actor who is hopelessly in love with another actor, Camilla Rowles. Due to Diane's lack of talent, she is constantly struggling to advance her career, and feels she failed to deliver on her own and her parents' expectations. Upon realizing that Camilla will never be hers (C. becomes engaged with Adam Kesher, the director), she hires a hitman to get rid of her, and subsequently has to deal with the guilt that it produces.

The movie first starts off with what may seem as a strange opening for this kind of thriller; which is some 50s dance/jitterbug contest, in which we can see the main character Betty giving a great performance. We also see an elderly couple (which we will see twice more throughout the movie) together with her, and applauding her.

No, wait. This is what most people see the first time they view it. There's actually another very significant fact that is given before the credits - the camera moving into an object (although blurry) and the scene quickly fading out. If you look closely, the object is actually a pillow, revealing that what follows is a dream.

The main characters seen in the first half of the movie:

Betty: Diane Selwyn's imaginary self, used in the first half of the movie that constitutes the "dream-sequence" - a positive portrayal of a successful, aspiring young actor (the complete opposite of Diane). 'Betty' was chosen as the name as that is the real name of the waitress at Winkies. Notice that in the dream version, the waitresses' name is 'Diane'.

Rita: The fantasy version of Camilla Rhodes that, through Diane's dream, and with the help of an imaginary car-accident, is turned into an amnesiac. This makes her vulnerable and dependent on Diane's love. She is then conveniently placed in Betty/Diane's aunt's luxurious home which Betty has been allowed to stay in.

Coco: In real life, Adam's mother. In the dream part, the woman in charge of the apartment complex that Betty stays in. She's mainly a strong authority figure, as can be witnessed in both parts of the film.

Adam: The director. We know from the second half that he gets engaged with Camilla. His sole purpose for being in the first half of the movie is only to serve as a punching bag for Betty/Diane, since she develops such hatred towards him.

Aunt Ruth: Diane's real aunt, but instead of being out of town, she is actually dead. Diane inherited the money left by her aunt and used that to pay for Camilla's murder.

Mr. Roach: A typical Lynchian character. Not real; appears only in Diane's dream sequence. He's a mysterious, influential person that controls the chain of events in the dream from his wheelchair. He serves much of the same function as the backwards-talking dwarf (which he also plays) in Twin Peaks.

The hitman: The person that murders Camilla. This character is basically the same in both parts of the movie, although rendered in a slightly more goofy fashion in the dream sequence (more on that below).

Now, having established the various versions of the characters in the movie, we can begin to delve into the plot. Of course I will not go into every little detail (neither will I lay it out chronologically), but I will try to explain some of the important scenes, in relation to Lynch' "hint-sheet".

As I mentioned above, Camilla was re-produced as an amnesiac through her improbable survival of a car-accident in the first 10 minutes of the movie, which left her completely vulnerable. What I found very intriguing with MD, is that Lynch constantly gives hints on what is real and what isn't. I've already mentioned the camera moving into the pillow, but notice how there's two cars riding in each lane approaching the limo.

Only one of the cars actually hit the limo; what about the other? Even if they stayed clear of the accident themselves, wouldn't they try to help the others, or at least call for help? My theory is that, since this is a dream, the presence of the other car is just set aside, and forgotten about. Since, as Rogert Ebert so eloquently puts it "Like real dreams, it does not explain, does not complete its sequences, lingers over what it finds fascinating, dismisses unpromising plotlines."

Shortly after Rita crawls down from the crash site at Mulholland Dr., and makes her way down the hillside and sneaks into Aunt Ruth's apartment, Betty arrives and we see this creepy old couple driving away, staring ghoulishly at each other and grinning at themselves and the camera. This is the first indication that what we're seeing is a nightmare.

Although the old couple seem to be unfamiliar to Betty, I think they're actually her parents (since they were applauding her at the jitterbug contest). Perhaps she didn't know them all that well, and didn't really have as good a relationship with them as she wanted, so the couple is shown as very pleasant and helpful to her in the dream. They also represent her feelings of guilt from the murder, and Diane's sense of unfulfillment regarding her unachieved goals in her life.

A rather long and hilarious scene is the one involving the hitman. Diane apparently sees him as the major force behind the campaign trying to pressure the director to accept Camilla's part in the movie (from Adam's party in the second half of the movie), and he therefore occupies a major part of her dream. Because of her feelings of guilt and remorse towards the murder of Camilla, a part of her wants him to miss, so she turns him into a
dumb criminal.

This scene, I think, is also Lynch's attempt at totally screwing his audience over, since they're given a false pretence in which to view the movie.

Gotta love that 'Something just bit me bad' line, though. :)

The next interesting scene is the one with the two persons at Twinkies, who are having a conversation about how one of them keep having this recurring nightmare involving a man which is seen by him through a wall outside of the diner that they're sitting in. After a little talk, they head outside and keep walking toward the corner of a fence, accompanied of course by excellent music matching the mood of the scene.

When reaching the corner, a bum-like character with a disfigured face appears out from behind the corner, scaring the living crap out of the man having the nightmare. This nightmare exists only in Diane's mind; she saw that guy in the diner when paying for the murder. So, in short, her obessions translate into that poor guy's nightmares. The bum also signifies Diane's evil side, as can be witnessed later in the movie.

The Cowboy constitutes (along with the dwarf) one of the strange characters that are always present in the Lynchian landscape -- Diane only saw him for a short while at Adam's party, but just like our own dreams can award insignificant persons that we hardly know a major part in our dreams, so can he be awarded an important part in her dream. We are also given further clues during his scenes that what we're seeing is not real (his sudden disappearance, etc.)

The Cowboy is also used as a tool to mock the Director, when he meets up with him at the odd location (the lights here give a clear indication that this is part of a dream). Also notice how he says that he will appear one more time if he (Adam) does good, or two more times if he does bad. Throughout the movie he appears two more times, indicating to Diane that she did bad. He is also the one to wake her up to reality (that scene is probably an illusion made to fit into her requirements of him appearing twice), and shortly thereafter she commits suicide.

The espresso-scene with the Castigliane brothers (where we can see Badalamenti, the composer, as Luigi) is probably a result of the fact that Diane was having an espresso just before Camilla and Adam made their announcement at Adam's party in the second half. It could at the same time also be a statement from Lynch.

During the scene in which they enter Diane's apartment, the body lying in the bed is Camilla, but notice how she's assumed Diane's sleeping position; Diane is seeing herself in her own dream, but the face is not hers, although it had the same wounds on the face as Diane would have after shooting herself. This scene is also filled with some genuine Lynchian creepiness. Since Diane did not know where (or when) the hitman would get to Camilla and finish her off, she just put her into her own home.

In real life, Diane's audition for the movie part was bad. In her dream, she delivers a perfect audition - leaving the whole crew ecstatic about her performance.

Also interesting is the fact that the money that in real-life was used to pay for Camilla's murder now appears in Rita/Camilla's purse. This is part of Diane's undoing of her terrible act by effectively being given the money back, as the murder now hasn't taken place.

When her neighbor arrives to get her piano-shaped ashtray, another hint is given; she takes the ashtray from her table and leaves, yet later when Camilla and Betty have their encounter on the couch, we see the ashtray appear again when the camera pans over the table, suggesting that Betty's encounter with the neighbor was a fantasy.

The catch phrase of the movie Adam is auditioning actresses for is "She is the girl"; which are the exact same words that Diane uses when giving the hitman Camilla's photo resume.

The blue box and the key represent the major turning point in the movie, and is where the true identities of the characters are revealed. There's much symbolism going on here; the box may represent Diane's future (it's empty), or it may be a sort of a Pandora's box (the hitman laughs when she asks him what the key will open). Either way, it is connected to the murder by means of the blue key (which is placed next to her after the murder has taken place). The box is also seen at the end of the movie in the hands of the disfigured bum.

Club Silencio is a neat little addition to further remind the viewer that what s/he is viewing is not real. It also signifies that Diane is about to wake up to her reality (her reality being a nightmare that she is unable to escape from, even in her dreams).

During the chilling scene at the end where the creepy old couple reappear, Diane is tormented in such a way that she sees suicide as the only way out in order to escape the screams and to avoid being haunted by her fears.

Anyway, that is my $0.02. Hope this could help people from bashing out at this movie and calling it 'the worst movie ever' or something to that effect, without realizing the plot.

As usual, Lynch is all about creating irrational fears, and he certainly achieves that with this picture as well.

10 out of 10.

5 years ago

love lynch, or hate lynch, admit he's a master

10/10 "twin peaks" and "blue velvet" have always been two of my favourite pieces of film-making, and even though past films by lynch have been slightly disappointing for me they have always been worth watching a number of times. to be pretentious, lynch can be like a good wine - he must be savoured and mulled over. but in the end you must make up your own mind about what you have seen, for lynch never gives you the full answers.

many people will walk out of "mulholland drive" possibly wanting to throttle themselves over the mind-bending visual jigsaw puzzle that has just unfolded before them. but there is a twisted logic to this film, you just have to look for the clues. betty (naomi watts) arrives in hollywood, doe-eyed and in search of stardom. she then finds an amnesiac in her bathroom who has escaped from an attempted murder on mulholland drive. together they try to uncover the secrets behind the amnesiac's life. this all leads to a club called silencio, where a blue box will reveal all. and that is when the film throws everything out the window. people we thought we knew are entirely different people altogether... is it a dream? a reminiscence about life's previous escapades? you will either love this film or hate it. david lynch always draws such extreme reactions from his viewers. but as his universe itself is always about extremes, it is fitting that his films provoke such reactions.

It is best to look at this film thematically, rather than as a straight-forward narrative. and appreciate the fact that lynch is a film-maker who will still let you draw your own conclusions. he has had many imitators as of late, particularly in "vanilla sky", where a mind-bending film decides to give you all the answers in the last rushed five minutes, and you will probably forget about that film as soon as you walk out of the cinema. mulholland drive will haunt you.

5 years ago