Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

USA 2001
Directed by
David Lynch
141 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Mulholland Drive

For a brief time Muholland Drive looks like it’s going to be a reasonably straightforward neo-noir thriller but, unsurprisingly being David Lynch, it soon starts getting strange and only gets stranger. 

The film opens at night on Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood Hills with a gorgeous brunette (Laura Elena Harring) being ordered at gunpoint to get out of a limousine. In a freak accident a car full of joyriding revelers slams into the limo. The woman staggers away from the wreckage.  We then cut to the next morning when Betty (Naomi Watts) arrives at LAX, a starry-eyed would-be film actress. She heads to the apartment of her aunt where coincidentally the unnamed woman has taken refuge. Suffering from amnesia but calling herself Rita (after Rita Hayworth) the woman has no idea what is going on and cannot explain the considerable amount of money and a blue key that she has in her bag. Betty decides to help her and the two women begin an unsettling adventure. Meanwhile a hot young director (Justin Theroux) is struggling to keep control over his film. Eventually his path and theirs will cross.

These are the main plot points of a film which, at least in hindsight, one can say is a dream-like, or better nightmarish, reordering of the real although whose reality and whose dream is hard to say. For anyone wanting a straightforward narrative this is going to be testing stuff although as with dreams the illogicality or surreality of the narrative's unfolding will be, for some, fascinating.

Originally conceived for a 1999 ABC television pilot no doubt in the Twin Peaks manner (traces of which can be seen in the two detectives who appear early in the film only to disappear forever and a wheelchair-bound invalid in a red curtained, glass walled room) that was never pursued, Lynch has a lot of fun developing this material, throwing in references to Golden Age Hollywood not just with Gilda (1946) and the casting of former musical starlet Ann Miller but working into the mix 1960s girlie pop music, an a capella version of Roy Orbison’s “Crying” sug in Spanish, a man dressed as a ‘30s film cowboy, a gorilla  and a comedic moment with a hit gone wrong, not to mention a hot Sapphic fling. These are just some of the things which along with Angelo Badalamenti’s music that the writer-director feeds into his twisted and twisting vision of Tinsel Town (one can’t help but recall John Schlesinger’s The Day of The Locust, 1974).

Harring provides a lusciously sexy presence but it is Naomi Watts who most impresses, playing two characters as well as giving a marvellous demonstration of on-demand acting in an audition sequence.

Since his first feature Eraserhead (1978) Lynch has acquired an unrivalled reputation for his skill in transposing his personal darkness to the big screen. With Mulholland Drive he takes this skill to a whole new level.




Want something different?

random vintage best worst