Starring: Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Justin Theroux, Ann Miller
On a dark night a limousine snakes along Mulholland Drive, the mountainous, lonely, winding road that separates Hollywood from the San Fernando Valley. The car suddenly stops. The lovely, well-dressed woman in the back seat demands to know why. She finds herself looking down the barrel of a gun and told to get out of the car. This is an obvious hit. In a split second a speeding car, loaded with teenagers, appears around a corner and a deadly crash kills all but the dazed, bruised women in the back seat. As she stumbles from the wreckage, the lady we come to know as Rita (Harring) sees the city lights far below and slowly disappears down the steep hill.
A fresh-faced young blond arrives at LAX conversing to a kindly old couple. Her name is Betty (Watts) and, you guessed it, she has come to Hollywood to be an actress. Naïve and innocent, Betty arrives at her aunt's bungalow to stay while the aunt is away on vacation. Walking through her Aunt's bungalow Betty is so happy that every sight is "gee whiz, wow"! Until, of course, she discovers a nude Rita using her Aunt's shower.
Thus begins David Lynch's new film "Mulholland Drive". Lynch wastes little time in turning this film into a creepy, foreboding labyrinth with so many twists and turns that the audience is left hopelessly lost yet mesmerised by the dreamscape of his sensuous and mysterious visions. Lynch cares little if the audience gets the point (if there is one). Sending us down blind alleys and dead end streets for no other reason than to confuse, Lynch is at his best. He even adds a shot of the lovable midget from "Twin Peaks". Lynch's sense of humour is obvious, for this scene has absolutely nothing to do with the story. It was, however, nice to see the little guy again.
At 2 hours and 40 minutes long, Lynch holds his viewers in the palm of his hand. The dazzling cinematography by Peter Deming, the score by Angelo Badalamenti, which adds a sense of underlying doom to each scene, the brilliant editing by Mary Sweeney, and the excellent performances, particularly by Watts, all contribute to one of the more interesting looking films of the year. Cameos by Ann Miller, Robert Forster and Chad Everett make fine contributions.
Much has been made of "Mulholland Drive" beginning as a TV pilot. When ABC-TV turned it down, some critics say Lynch shot some extra footage and pieced it together as a feature. In fact, a French company financed the project, after ABC exited, and Lynch worked for months not only turning out an impressive film but also delivering, hopefully, a nomination for Naomi Watts. Her dual role is complex and impressive. In one minute, her innocent naiveté suddenly explodes across the screen with erotic sexuality. It's a remarkable transition. Harring also delivers as the mysterious Rita.
So what is this eerie thriller about? Who cares? I won't attempt to delve into the details for the fun of this film is allowing Lynch to draw you into his tangled web and slowly turn your mind to mush. Lynch provides one compelling visual after another to add a rich textural quality to the movie. "Mulholland Drive" took top honours at Cannes. In a lean year like 2001, it just may take the Academy by storm!