[Warning: Some plot spoilers in the next three paragraphs]
The film opens with a jitterbug number and overlapping images of numerous couples. It is truly a confusing array of vigorous acrobatics, almost a precursor to what Lynch has in store for us. Then the film takes a darker turn and thrusts us into the depth of what seems like the Twilight Zone. A limousine is ever so slowly driving down Mulholland Drive late at night, barely discernible only by its taillights. The vehicle stops and the woman in the back seat (Laura Herring) becomes alarmed. Out of nowhere, a car crashes into the limo and everyone is killed but her.
The woman walks out of the wreckage, unnerved by the incident but almost totally unscathed…except the fact that she does not remember who she is. The woman sees the bright lights of Los Angeles atop Mulholland Drive and begins her long walk back to it. She ends up spending the night in a vacant apartment, terrified of what will happen to her.
Then there is Betty (Naomi Watts), a bubbly aspiring actress who just flew down to Los Angeles. However, her big smile and optimistic outlook is immediately erased when she walks into her new apartment and finds a woman taking a shower. The mysterious woman explains to her that she does not remember her identity, and that all she knows is that she was involved in a car accident the previous night. Betty is determined to help her out. The two women form a friendship, and they’re off to find out answers to their questions. Along the way, “Mulholland Drive” introduces us to the Bogeyman hiding behind a trash bin, a menacing cowboy in a remote corral, a midnight theater of illusions and a small blue box that supposedly holds the answer to everything.
Written by Lynch, the bits and pieces of “Mulholland Drive” are easy to follow, but it’s putting those pieces together that makes the film terrifyingly illogical. Two hours into the film, I was still unsure what the heck was going on, but there lies the genius of Lynch for he keeps your attention all throughout. Unlike “Lost Highway”, there’s a certain humanity to the insanity, which makes us care about what happens to these characters. With everything defying logic, the sense of longing pervades the lives of the characters and we are affected. It also helps that Lynch has great knack with the camera for “Mulholland Drive” is a great looking film. He captures the right mood and look for the film and occasionally adds a little twist of humor to the madness. The haunting score by Angelo Badalamenti is an excellent companion to the film. There is also an entrancing rendition of Roy Orbison’s “Crying”, sung in Spanish a cappella. A true show stopper.
You will leave “Mulholland Drive” in a state of bewilderment, but no matter how illogical the film may be, one cannot deny the film’s wieldy spell right from the very start…or is it the end?
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