Mulholland Drive - rated - HOT! HOT! HOT!
A friend of mine saw this film and remarked that it was one of the most
confusing films he'd ever seen, and noted that many in the audience were
saying it was the worst film they'd ever seen. At the session I was
at, it was packed - sold out, and many people stayed until the end of the
credits. What does that tell you? That people will go to see a David Lynch
film, and although most will tell you they didn't understand it, that fact
will put some people off the film, but others will revel in it.
I revel in it.
In fact, I think Mulholland Drive is one of his more accessible films.
If you compare it with Lost Highway, or even Eraserhead, it
seems perfectly straightforward. But speaking of "straight," if
you compare it with The Straight Story, a film that Lynch calls his
most "experimental" film, then you're comparing it with the extreme
right of the Lynchian brain.
I see Mulholland Drive as a parable - a morality tale. It is the
old old story of the pretty girl who came to Hollywood, was used and abused,
and ended her life tragically, too early, burned out and rejected. The earliest
recorded example of this is the true story of Peg Entwhistle, the girl who
jumped to her death from the "Hollywood" sign.
Sure there are a lot of non sequiturs in the film. Partly that is due to
the fact that the film started its life as a TV series, with a whole lot
of characters who were to appear in forthcoming episodes which never eventuated
(the two men who meet at Winky's, for example). But I love all that. I love
being immersed in the Lynchian universe, with all its obsessions and fears.
As to the main story, I tend towards the Roger Ebert view: Betty Elms is
Diane Selwyn as she would like to have been - but Diane is the reality,
and Betty is the impossible dream Hollywood story from way back: she wins
a jitterbug competition, for heaven's sake! Betty might even be the ghost
of Peg Entwhistle. Or Dorothy Stratten, the poor beauty queen who came to
Hollywood only to be murdered by her husband (as told in Bob Fosse's underrated
film Star 80). After all, Betty Elms comes from Deep River, Ontario.
Dorothy Stratten came from Vancouver, British Columbia.
I can't believe those critics who thought the two-faced elderly couple were
Betty's parents. Didn't they hear them say "It was nice to meet you"
to Betty as she leaves in a taxi? But I love the idea that one critic had,
that they may have been the judges of the jitterbug competition! Wow! My
husband's theory, which I love, is that the careless joyriding teenagers
who crash into "Rita"'s car are ghostly teen jitterbuggers!
Because I see it as the feverish dream of a dying girl, I don't feel the
need to tie everything up neatly. The blue box is just a device to move
between the dream and the reality. Things don't have to make sense - weird
things from Betty/ Diane's psyche just pop up as they do in dreams. Among
David Lynch's recurring obsessions which pop up in most of his films, including
this one: a mysterious entity which controls everything that happens (check!),
a person or persons who comes into your life and takes over (check!), red
velvet curtains (check!), hotel room /apartment number 26 (check!), a phone
ringing in an empty room (check!), and, most importantly perhaps, good coffee
(check, but please bring a napkin!).
The film is dedicated to the memory of Jennifer Syme. I wasn't aware there
was a mystery about who Jennifer Syme was: I read somewhere about her ages
ago - she was Keanu Reeves' girlfriend and she died in a tragic car crash.
I read later that she was a personal assistant to David Lynch, and that
she was a dark-haired beauty (like "Rita").
Mulholland Drive is beautiful to look at (Lynch must be the modern filmic
master of Yves Klein blue, and at one stage I thought I was watching Bladerunner,
as the lights of Los Angeles lit up the screen). It is also beautiful to
listen to. The film has another ethereal Angelo Badalamenti score, with
a knockout (literally!) performance of Roy Orbison's "Crying"
(in Spanish). It is a lovely, sad mystery, which uses the techniques of
cinema with great flair. It is the best directed film of 2001/2, and my
pick for the Best Director Oscar this year.
© Michèle M Asprey 2002
This review is copyright. You must not use any part without my permission.