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Mulholland Dr. (2001)
Director: David Lynch
review by Trent Walters
This movie deserves more than three stars, but two hours into David Lynch's "love story in the city of dreams" (as he called Mulholland Dr.), you're likely to find the story is suddenly not the story you thought it was. Luckily, you don't have to shell out the extra theatre bucks for a second viewing. You can rewind and hit the play button again, collecting the double-entendres you missed in the first go round since you had no idea where the director was taking you. But will a second viewing help? What a diversion it would have been to watch the expressions of viewers as they stepped out of the darkened theatre into the lighted hall.
Is it an accident that the two hours of relative clarity are deposed by madcap surrealism (the generic meaning - not the movement which sought no meaning)? Probably not. The movie began as a pilot for a series on ABC that never materialised because they hated it. The 125 minutes (i.e. two hours, hint, hint) of film - to be developed as the series progressed - languished, paying penance in movieland paradise. The viewer has to wonder if Lynch got everything in he wanted or, more importantly, needed. Lynch referred to the pilot as "open-ended... [with] threads going out into the infinite... like a body with no head." The big question is whether 'Dr Frankenstein' Lynch was able to find an appropriate head to sew on to the gangly body.
A woman, nearly knocked off by mobsters who have chauffeured her down Mulholland Drive, gets into a car accident that kills all others. She stumbles back into town in an amnesiac daze, and sneaks into an apartment vacated by an older woman headed out on vacation. Wanting to audition and stake her claim on Hollywood, Betty, a starry-eyed girl, appears at her aunt's apartment where the amnesiac showers. Betty pursues both her career and the memory of the amnesiac. Supposedly. That's in the first two hours.
Suddenly Camilla Rhodes is not the person we thought she was. Different short-haired blonde actresses, the question of who's who, the sudden switch to surreal scenes, and the flashbacks confuse the picture. If only the viewer had a piece of ship driftwood to cling to through the last half hour of Lynch's titanic hurricane...
One hint to help your first viewing: read the Rita Hayworth poster in the bathroom. Now interpret every arbitrary dialogue with a double mind. Don't worry if you like cryptic movie puzzles. All does not become clear by the end. Don't expect the disparate pieces to come together like a Vonnegut novel - many threads remain unresolved, serving little story purpose but as significant symbols. So many themes for one movie: identity crises, male- and female-female relations, acting pretensions altering Hollywood's perceptions of reality, the movie industry's buddy system, etc. If this had been a pilot for an extended series as originally intended, this reviewer would have praised and ardently pursued future episodes. But as is, with a murky resolution and the blind alley games of 'who's that girl?,' the movie is merely a treasure trove of symbol: intellectually stimulating but suffering from a loss of passion. Lynch, with his eye for detail and Beckett-esque dialogue, should collaborate with visionary Richard Kelly, director of the likewise 'surreal' Donnie Darko and whose broad passionate strokes could compliment Lynch. What a dynamic duo that would be.
On a side note, Lynch's film company optioned (working on?) two famous SF writers Jonathan Lethem and Joe Landsdale, as well as Stephen Marlowe, who apparently skates the edge of the genre and whose novel delves into the disappearance of Poe before his death.
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