Mulholland Drive (2001)

Mulholland Drive
Written and directed by David Lynch
(number 399) – hey I’ve watched all the 400s now! Bottom 100 are done.

I’ve watched this film once before and I remember feeling intensely confused by it. I had hoped that watching it again after seeing so many art house films I’d be able to ‘read’ it a bit easier. Sadly, this was not to be the case.

This movie is all about style, and it’s about very little else that I can tell. But that said I was having trouble reading the film. I didn’t know where to start with interpreting, so I went onto Facebook and asked for some feedback about why it’s beloved. I had several helpful responses. I stopped the film 52 minutes through.

Dan: “It opened up a new world of cinema to me, so I’m biased. I think Russ has one of the themes down, for sure, and it’s a Masterclass in emotional manipulation. But ultimately I think it’s a deconstruction of the machine of Hollywood and the fragile dreams that come to it.”

Steve recommended his own blog post about it:

And Film Crit Hulk’s review:

Scott said: “I like it, an immersive cinematic portrayal of memory, dream, and ptsd disassociation, conveying those mental states to the audience in a completely subjective fashion. Asks a lot of questions about those mental states but, like real life, does not allow easy answers.”

Okay, so with those things in mind and a more helpful way to frame the film than ‘I remember being confused and angry with it’, I started up again. I love dreams, so framing everything I see as a moment in a dream was helpful – you don’t have to ask a dream to make sense, things just … are. I felt suddenly less stressed and more open to the film itself.

That said I’m still not sure if I enjoy it.

Once the blue box sequence happens and the ‘true’ story is revealed, it becomes a puzzle. The first part of the film is like fan fiction Diane has written about how she wants the world to be, her relationship with Camilla to have played out, rather than the painful break up and anger.

OMG little baby Mark Pellegrino! Lucifer is a hit man in this 😀 Joyyyyy.. what a cutie he is.

Okay but what the fuck is with the little tiny people? I mean. I guess it’s hallucinations and fracturing reality as she goes crazy, yes? It’s disturbing as anything. But it does lead to suicide so that makes a certain amount of sense. The nightmare man from the man’s dream at the start of the film is very reminiscent of Bob from Twin Peaks, right?

Does it make me love the people? Yeah it does. I feel for Betty/Diane a lot, Naomi Watts is an incredible actor and she makes you believe in the naive new to town Betty, the utter depression Diane feels about the break up, the rage of watching Camilla with someone else, everything. It’s a stunning performance.

Similarly Laura Harring is transcendent, embodying the kind of lofty perfection we’re used to seeing in Hollywood films. An effortless beauty and grace which remains somewhat hard to read, hard to parse as human, which is why her time as Rita at the start of the film is important. That’s where we see her humanity and her vulnerability.

Bechdel test: Yes, a hundred times over. Betty talks to Coco, Louise, Diane, the film industry women and so on. Great film for women characters. Diane talks to Camilla in the new reality.

Besides that, it is nice to have lesbian characters and sex scenes in a movie, although it does fall into the dead gay trope where one of them is dead by the end of the film. Sigh, sigh.

Best line:

Betty Elms: I’m sorry. I’m just so excited to be here. I mean I just came here from Deep River, Ontario, and now I’m in this dream place. Well, you can imagine how I feel.

State of Mind: ‘Silencio’, the rest is silence. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, once I had a way to frame things. My incredible amount of movie watching does give me a bit more of interpretation space as well. I am more likely to watch it again than I thought I’d be, but I couldn’t say I enjoyed it. I suppose with movies which are made to be a puzzle, I’m more forgiving of some than others. Still, what is art if it’s not provocative?

I’m also a bit pleased I’ve been on Mulholland Drive since the last time I watched this film. Thanks, Hamish!

Watched movie count

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