Mulholland Drive
dir. Lynch
Opens Fri Oct 20
Cinema 21

I Liked Mulholland Drive

by Sean Nelson

Movie endings leave you feeling either satisfied or unsatisfied. David Lynch's endings, particularly the one for his new film, Mulholland Drive, have an altogether different power: They send the viewer hurtling into a tizzy of desperate calculus, trying to figure out what the hell has been happening for the last two-and-a-half hours.

Lynch films are largely resolution-free, and spill over with possible meanings, merging identities, and dream-reality crossovers so elaborate that it takes several viewings to decide whether the tricks add up. There's always a sense that the film could be a big practical joke on the cult of seriousness; Lynch, after all, is one funny bastard. Not only is Mulholland Drive no exception to this principle, it's his freaky ne plus ultra.

Since the film originated as a TV pilot, it's safe to assume that Lynch intended to introduce a big, multi-character, intertwining narrative rather than tell an entire story. Even so, there are so many avenues that lead to cul de sacs here--it's a challenge just keeping score. I don't know if there's anything at the center of this great mess, but I do know that the film makes for a complicated entertainment. The best joke of all might be that ABC ever considered putting it on TV.

I Hated Mulholland Drive
by Bradley Steinbacher

David Lynch's best films take both his affinity for extreme normalcy and his (often incomprehensible) weirdness, and combine them into one pretty package. Think Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart, the first half of Lost Highway and the first season of Twin Peaks. His other work is either too tame or too pretentious/stupid/weird-for-weirdness' sake to fully capture his talent.

Mulholland Drive is bad Lynch. No, I take that back--it is terrible Lynch. What starts out as film noir quickly deteriorates into pathetic masturbation, only to such a degree that any interest in trying to decipher what Lynch is saying is lost. Sure, you could call it an "exercise in the surreal" or some bullshit, and that's fine and all, but before you sprint off to the theater, think back to the scene in Lost Highway when Balthazar Getty stumbles down a hallway twitching rapidly while looking for the bathroom. Then imagine that scene slapped around a couple of lesbian scenes and extended for 2.5 hours. Sound like fun? Oh, sure, when it's described here, maybe--but when you're in the theater, witnessing it onscreen, it ain't. Trust me.

I Was in Mulholland Drive
by Naomi Watts (as interviewed by Sean Nelson)

David doesn't divulge anything he's thinking. I mean, he gives you direction, but scene-by-scene. But in terms of what it means and why and when and how and all that stuff: No, that's for your own interpretation. At first, I felt quite tortured by the whole experience, 'cause as actors, we're taught to create a little patchwork quilt and what patch goes where and which color looks good; it's this whole thing about designing your performance. He makes you undo all that, and you just have to trust him. My interpretation was completely what I fabricated myself, in order to make some sense of it. And I saw it as Diane's psychosis before the inevitable happens. Diane [Watts' character in the second half of the film] is someone who's been having a friendship with Camilla, played by Laura Harring. Camilla represents everything that Diane wants. So when Camilla gives her some of her attention and energy, it sort of brings Diane alive and she feels strong and hopeful. And then it all goes horribly wrong, so, in other words, it's sort of like an unrequited love story. You start with Betty [Watts' character in the first half of the film], who I believe is the projection, the alternate ego, the fantasy, the dream. And Betty's in charge. Rita is Laura's other character.

She's the one with amnesia. She has no identity, and Betty prides herself in controlling and dressing her up, almost like a little girl does with her baby doll.... I know it's disjointed and non-linear and it still doesn't make perfect sense to everyone, but I find a lot of sense in it.