Mulholland Drive review by Tom Blain

Mesmirizing

I would imagine for any film critic that holds stock in his own opinion this must be intimidating. David Lynch is enigmatically artistic; at least that is what I would like to believe. He creates movies that at first glance seem disjointed. They are not simple films. You must scrape away layer upon layer of meanings and hidden meanings to get at what you believe is the true meaning. Even then you could find yourself miles away from the core of "his" true meaning. But that is where we discover the genius of David Lynch. He allows us to think freely of his films and gives us the ability to arrive at separte conclusions. Even after watching his film four times I can find something new (or some potentially new theory) during each viewing.

How many films can you say that about? Many people applauded Memento (of the same year 2001) for its tricky plot, and confusing story-telling. I myself enjoyed it. However, I understood it the first time. A guy tricks himself into creating a murder-mystery. He has no memory storing capabilities. I get it. I have seen it once, enjoyed it, and that is it. I might see it again but I will not do so for a while. Mulholland Drive leaves you with no such resolution by the end. Hell, there is no clear cut decision in the middle. Its all jumbled and moved around, and hides things from you... its confusing.

Some will call it garbage. I can see many viewers (and did when I was in the theatre) saying this movie is weird for the sake of being weird; nothing more. That is one theory, but you still wont ruin my fun! I choose to be an anaylist of some sophisticated puzzle, so give me that right! And here I go... in the following review I will spout off, several 'theories' on the meaning (both deep and shallow) of Mulholland Drive that I have arrived at. I have purposely steered clear of reading other reviews in hopes of not tampering my own opinions. If you have more opinions, please e-mail them to me or post comments below. I am open to new readings.

Before I start, there were some "clues" left in the DVD of this film. I will probably refer to some of these in my analysis (hopefully all of them). Some I believe are red herrings, but some might be useful to keep in mind. They are:

1) Pay particular attention in the begining of the film: there are at least two clues revealed at the begining.
2) Notice the appearances of the red lampshade. 3) Can you hear the name of the movie Adam Keshur 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 Silencio? 8) Did talent alone help Camilla? 9) Note the occurences surrounding the man behind Winkies. 10) Where is Aunt Ruth?

THEORY 1: Dirty ole David Lynch

Why it makes sense: Who hasnt wanted to see a lesbian scene between Rita Hayworth and Grace Kelly. I can see little Davey Lynch sitting in front of a movie screen at the ripe ole age of 12 just dreaming of the day these two silver screen beauties swap spit and caress skin. This is obviously the least cerebral of my theories. But seriously, you have Betty who is dressed (blatantly when sneaking into Diane Selwyn's house ala Rear Window ) like Grace Kelly and Rita who even names herself after a poster (of Gilda that practically reflects her full figured brunette body. Maybe he even desided he could write a film around, did just that and fooled everyone into thinking it actually meant something above the lesbian affection between two lovely ladies that appear to be Hollywood legends. Works for me; he pulls big in Hollywood. My boy Lynch could do that.
Why it doesn't make sense: Because I want to believe in the higher thinking of David Lynch. I want to believe in his multi-tiered presentation, and want to believe that he wants us to think deep; deeper than a Ted Bundy grave. So, I will dig deeper than purely sexual fantasy realization!

THEORY 2: Timeline Theory

Why it makes sense: Picture this. A brunette is setup to die (Camilla Rose) by her jealous lesbian lover (Diane Selwyn). Instead of dying, she is involved in a nasty car accident that kills almost everyone but her. She is left with amnesia and can't even remember her own identity. She stumbles to an apartment and meets with a girl that is the spitting image of her ex-lesbo lover (ie Betty) and starts to remember things slowly. The end of the movie is her recollection of what happened to the real Diane Selwyn (IE some past events and what-not). If you play, editor, you can make it happen! Damnit I saw Pulp Fiction, this is possible.
Why it doesn't make sense: You have the whole problem of other details. Adam Keshur at a party in the second half mentions a break up with his wife that happened in the first half. This could be seen as a different timelie because some events (betty/camilla) might not necessarly happen at the same time. However, the two identitys of Camilla Rose (blonde in the first half, brunette in the second) cannot be ignored. Therefore this theory loses some momentum. DOH! It seemed so cool.

THEORY 3: Split Personality

Why it makes sense: There is a light side (blonde Betty) and a dark side (brunnette Rita). Obviously Betty is the goodie two-shoes, and Rita is mysterious and dangerous. Seems to make sense aesthetically. Slowly Betty begins to get a little more dangerous herself. Breaking and entering, dirty parts in movies, and of course slutty lesbian acts (hoooo daddy!). This joining of the two presents some sort of whore-ish BIG BANG (oooh, the pun!), causing their lives to be changed and flip flopped and reversed. Betty becomes the low-classed, dirty Diane Selwyn and Rita becomes the high-classed, dirty Camilla Rose.
Why it doesn't make sense: Well I was going somewhere with that, then lost it. You tell me. Is it patchable? It makes sense for a while and then falls apart at the end. This is a good addition as far as mise-en-scene is concerned but it doesn't explain the film in the full stretch. Maybe another beer will help me realize the potential of this theory. -burp!-

THEORY 4: Hollywood in the 50s vs Hollywood in the 90s

Why it makes sense: Take a look at the first part versus the second part of the film (IE where SILENCIO breaks it up). You have two stories of Naomi Watts: one of Betty and one of Diane. The story of Betty begins with a Jitterbug contest (see hint 1), that sends her to an opportunity in Hollywood that her Aunt sets up. She arrives with starry eyed visions. How cute. Much like the vision of Hollywood many moons ago.. where you could be 'discovered' and actors were all role models. Notice that in the first part there is no foul language: "horse pucky" and "smart alec" are spoken in place of "horse shit" and "smart ass." Try to find a dirty word in the first part. Betty herself is kind of cheesy. She seems to be a bit naive for movie-making; even naive for life in general. She has the attitude of a little girl hoping good things will happen (much like the story of many feminist flicks of the 50s era). And they do! She gets discovered, put up for a better part in a great movie, gets in no trouble trying to solve a Nancy Drew mystery and falls in love with a beautiful woman (well that didnt happen in the 50s).
Part two: Enter Diane. The actress that didnt make it. She is dirty, slutty, on the verge of suicide. She is obsessed with a woman that is about to marry a successful director and cannot handle it. She gets no parts in Hollywood and barely lives on what she makes. Diane is polar opposite of Betty. Sounds a little more true to life though. I mean in the 90s you have Tommy Lee and Pam Anderson bumpin nasties in front of thousands of voyeurs on VHS. Thats Hollywood reality these days and thats about as dirty as it gets. Its a social statement on Hollywood appearances then and now.
Why it doesn't make sense: There is little explanation for the director Adam Keshur (who seems to be significant), the cowboy (who seems to garner certain power), or the little blue box and key. This theory is pretty broad but doesnt explain a lot of details. Its more of an overall theme.

THEORY 5:Dream 1

Why it makes sense: Dream 1 would be a dream that Camilla Rose is having. You see immediately after the whole "guy behind winkies" (see hint 9) we see Rita sleeping. Maybe the rest of the movie is her dream. Or maybe just part. Betty might be a dream. In fact we dont see "Betty" until she wakes up out of this dream (she walks off the plane with a fake smile immediately after Rita awakes from the flower bed) and we see "Betty" for the last time after she takes the blue box following SILENCIO (see hint 7). Maybe this awakens her in a way. The rest of the box contains something of her past, and something about the truth. Betty is really an apirition reminscient of Diane Selwyn.
Why it doesn't make sense: We still have the problem of the timeline. And there are things that happen outside of her conscious (IE the cowboy, the hired killer). Also there is more going on with Betty than there is with Rita in the first half. Betty/Diane seems to be the main focus. This also doesnt seem very deep. There is little purpose to this theory, other than some amnesia story...no fun!

THEORY 6:Pandora's Box

Why it makes sense: It took some research on my part. Pandora's Box seems to pull a lot of weight. I am proud of this because it seems to make sense. Pandora's Box is a piece of greek mythology. Pandora (a woman) was told not to open a box given to her by a titan (Prometheus I believe). She became curious, opened it, and unleashed evil and misery. Our Pandora is either Betty or Rita. The Pandora's box is the little blue box, opened by Rita, found by Betty. Upon opening the box, the movie takes a dramatic shift towards Betty's demise. Her life takes a 180. She is no longer looking forward to a bright Hollywood future, she is looking down the barrell of a gun at a depressed failed career and love life. And who has the blue box at the end? The most evil and dirty of them all: the guy behind the dumpster of Winkies who is "controlling it all" according the the guy who was having the nightmares (see hint 9). Oh yeah, we have a greek mythology parallel...EAT IT!
Why it doesn't make sense: I see no reason for it not to make sense. On a deeper level of thinking it seems to be pretty damn straight. I guess if anything SILENCIO isnt explained her but because its in a foreign language and I am a big dumb American, I can't really tell if there is a straight clue there or not. Take it for what it is worth. For my money this is probaby the second best theory but the most imaginative one.

THEORY 7:Dream 2

Why it makes sense: The mother of all my theories. Probably the most obvious and realized by anyone digging deep enough. The first half of the movie is Diane Selwyn's dream. She dreams of being a Hollywood star or great actor (or both if she can be). She is optimistic, beautiful, and classy (like Grace Kelly). She gets an 'in' with her aunt and is discovered immediately. Literally given a shot at a big film in her first attempt. Everything seems to be perfect for ole Betty. Then there is Rita who she falls in love with. Rita has amnesia... Betty can almost form her into what she desires. Their adventure of solving a mystery seems to be some kind of fake movie story (well... uhh... sounds a lot like this film I just got done watching). Their match seems to be one made in Hollywood.
Then she wakes up. She is no longer Betty, she is Diane Selwyn. Rita is Camilla Rhodes. She is a former lover of Diane's but Diane would like to remove the former as she is tormented by Camilla. Camilla is actually getting married to her director Adam Keshur, which only hurts Diane more. She finally hires some dirtbag to kill Camilla. They meet at ole Winkies, where the name Betty becomes concious (its the waitresses name). Also she is given the blue key = blue box from the dream (see below).
Other people in her dream world come to play. Koko is there but instead of being her landlady she is Adam's mother. Diane's Aunt is actually dead (see hint 9), not in Canada doing a shoot. She left Diane some money; no aparent lead. In fact most people seem more real around her in the second half. Characters like Koko, the Cowboy, and even the creepy wheel chair guy seem unreal in the dream half but are either realistic or not apparent in the reality segment.
Lets take a deeper look at Adam in this scenario. In her dream, Adam is completely tormented and torn apart. He is stripped of control over his film, his career is stolen from him, his wife cheats on him (with Billy Ray Cyrus: Mullet in FULL affect BTW!), and he is reduced to begging a cowboy (in LA!?) for his life back. Betty sees Adam (in her dreams) and runs from him. Why? Because conciously he poses as a threat to her reality. She denies it by escaping him in her dream. In real life, he torments her by tearing away her love. Also, Camilla Rhodes is someone else in the first half (not Rita; see the picture of her) and therefore has no connection with Adam; making Diane's dream "safe".
And the little blue box? It is very dreamlike representation of a key... a very abstract object. It is directly related to the blue key left by the murderer of Camilla Rhodes. Maybe a trigger in her dream for her to wake up. As she gets closer to opening it, she begins to wake up. Why it doesn't make sense: The old creepy folks. Yeah the guys that torment her at the end forcing her to kill herself. Who the hell are they? Go to the next theory which can be read as a corralary to the Dream 2 theory.

THEORY 8:All Drugged up and nothing better to think of

Why it makes sense: Well it may have something to do with the blue key/blue box. What would explain it better is (the fucked up movie scape goat) drugs. In the opening (see hint 1) you can see red sheets (from Diane's house) and sounds of breathing through some device before the movie/dream begins. Maybe she (Diane) is inhaling some hallucinigenic thingy and that triggers hallucinations. This would explain the dream (Dream 2 above) and the old people the force her to bite a silver one.
Why it doesn't make sense: Because drugs can always be an answer in some strange film. Dream 2 by itself might be better. You have to consult Lynch-dogg on this one. He used inhalant drugs before (see Blue Velvet) in his films, why not make it the crux of his latest and greates?

THEORY 9:I fear old people.

Why it makes sense: They are old, wriggled and creepy when they keep smiling like that. Damnit, if they come into my house during a thunderstorm and keep harrassing me I might just shoot myself (if I were a lesbian whore).
Why it doesn't make sense: Because I am running on fumes. Thats about all I got left in me!

A movie that produced this much though must get at least a 9 in my book. So there ya go! It's a 9!!! Not a full fledged classic yet, but thought provoking enough to get in my head and not leave for months. Thank you Mr. Lynch, my only request is that you do a DVD that has commentary this time so I can solve this Scooby Doo mystery. Zoiks! The DVD has jack on it besides the movie and trailer!!




9 out of 10 Jackasses
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