Retro-review:Mulholland Drive


I watched Mulholland Drive the first time it came out on cable, first on the Japanese cable, Wowow (but of course!) in its full, uncensored form, and then on Star Movies, so mercilessly cut that I couldn’t make sense of it even more. All I could remember of it was “Silencio….silencio…” a line from the film that my sister and I would just randomly insert in conversations that had morphed into a joke afterwards.

I remember having intense discussions with friends about it, and I remember one friend actually walking out on me, refusing to believe my analysis of the film.

If truth be told, almost 10 years after its release, I am as baffled and bewildered by the film as when I first saw it. And I still wonder about a lot of unanswered questions the movie raised. Like why does Rita (Laura Harring) have amnesia? Why did she have a car accident? Where did the money come from? Why is Betty (Naomi Watts) so annoyingly cheerful? Did Rita and Betty’s intense (intensely sexual) relationship really occur? Or did it all happen only in Betty’s mind? What is the dwarf’s purpose? What does the cowboy do? How does Adam (Justin Theroux) fit in all of these? And what is Rita and Betty’s connection to Diane (again played by Watts) and Camilla (played by Harring)’s story?  Why were the love scenes so brutally short, or brutal and short? More importantly,what does it all mean?!?

The story of Rita’s amnesiac character,who stumbles onto aspiring actress Betty’s apartment (and into her arms, =wink=, =wink=), and who tries to search for her identity as a budding romance develops between her and Betty, which suddenly abruptly ends as another storyline of the same faces but with different names (Dianne and Camille) has left critics and movie fans properly baffled and puzzled, but this story though has generated a lot of buzz and a lot of interest, long after the movie has been given accolades and/or bad reviews. This is understandable as the movie started out as a television pilot from the mind of David Lynch. Confusing and puzzling it may be, but boring it isn’t. Told in a maddeningly non-linear fashion (but not so non-linear as to be “Memento”), the film has generated discussion on reality and the subconscious, mind and memory, emotion and ambition, as well as discussion on how Hollywood is depicted: the glittering, glamorous Hollywood of possibilities and stardom, and the dark, depressing Hollywood of broken dreams and failures.

If you do want to figure out what it all means, David Lynch has come up with helpful clues on the DVD release that might either puzzle you, enlighten you or drive you right to the edge:

“David Lynch’s 10 Clues to Unlocking This Thriller”:

  1. Pay particular attention in the beginning of the film: At least two clues are revealed before the credits.
  2. Notice appearances of the red lampshade.
  3. Can you hear the title of the film that Adam Kesher is auditioning actresses for? Is it mentioned again?
  4. An accident is a terrible event — notice the location of the accident.
  5. Who gives a key, and why?
  6. Notice the robe, the ashtray, the coffee cup.
  7. What is felt, realized, and gathered at the Club Silencio?
  8. Did talent alone help Camilla?
  9. Note the occurrences surrounding the man behind Winkie’s.
  10. Where is Aunt Ruth?  

While you may come out confused about the movie after watching it, I recommend watching it at least twice, just to see where it takes you. Half of the fun of watching movie is the new discoveries you find as you watch it and seeing interpretations and re-interpretations of it.

Or you can just watch it for Laura Harring and Naomi Watts passionately giving it a go.

Either way it won’t disappoint. Even if you come away from the movie scratching your head, baffled and bewildered, asking yourself, “”But what does it all mean?!?”


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