Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Mulholland Dr. (2001)

The films of David Lynch are exceptionally difficult. Sure, he has made some more conventional films in the past, such as The Straight Story and The Elephant Man, but many of his films (and his TV show, Twin Peaks) are dense, bizarre works that require multiple viewings just to scratch the surface of their meanings. This isn't dense in the Inception definition of the word, though; his films are much more like a fever dream, loosely tied to reality but just enough so that it all seems real. Mulholland Dr., arguably Lynch's masterpiece, is especially one of the latter, so confusing and complicated that Lynch himself published "David Lynch's 10 Clues to Unlocking this Thriller" just so viewers could make better sense of it.
The basic plot (if you can call it basic) revolves around two women: Rita (Laura Harring), who has supposedly lost her memory in a car accident on Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles, and Betty (Naomi Watts), an aspiring actress hoping to find stardom. Betty decides to help Rita figure out what happened to her as she prepares to audition for a film by Adam Kesher (Justin Theroux), who may or may not have had something to do with Rita's accident. Their search leads them through a dream-like Los Angeles, and the discovery that their reality may not be what they think it is.
Or is it? This was my third viewing of the film, and I still haven't completely figured out everything in this film. Lynch's magnificent direction, obviously inspired by the French New Wave as well as Rod Serling, provides us with great hazy visuals and some incredible nightmarish images. What really makes his direction praiseworthy is that, even though its hard to decipher and sometimes seems random, every image, no matter how strange, may contain a clue to what the film means. He's a master of visuals, and every viewing only increases appreciation for what he has created (and I'm certain that, eventually, I'm going to figure it all out).
Lynch is really well-known for his work with actors, which is a shame because he's quite good at bringing out great performances. Everyone is a game player for the weirdness, but none more so that Watts, who really shines as Betty. Its a shame that Watts isn't in more films nowadays; she's a great talent who really deserves more roles than she's had.
Mulholland Dr. is a fantastic film, and one that's definitely worth checking out. But if you've never seen anything by Lynch before, its not a good first film. Check out Wild at Heart or one of the aforementioned films first, then take the plunge.


Simon said...

You need a gateway drug before you can delve into hardcore Lynch. Straight Story or Elephant Man, perhaps.

Jason H. said...

No kidding.