movie film review | chris tookey

Mulholland Drive

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  Mulholland Drive Review
Tookey's Rating
9 /10
Average Rating
7.31 /10
Betty: Naomi Watts , Rita: Laura Elena Harring, Adam Kesher: Justin Theroux
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Directed by: David Lynch
Written by: David Lynch

Released: 2001
Genre: DRAMA
Origin: US/ France
Colour: C
Length: 146

A perky, blonde Canadian actress (Naomi Watts) arrives in Los Angeles to make her name, and borrows a conveniently central apartment from her aunt, an older actress who has gone off to make a film. But our heroine unexpectedly discovers a beautiful woman (Laura Elena Harring) with that good old stand-by affliction of film noir, amnesia, hiding out in the apartment. Together, they try to work out the latter's identity, with the blonde acting as girl detective and the beauty as the mysterious femme fatale, and they fall in love, as detectives and femme fatales so often do. Meanwhile, a smart-alecky director (Justin Theroux) is pursued by the Mob for his refusal to cast an actress they want in his latest picture. His marriage, credit rating and career are shot to pieces, until he gives in.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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There is a nightmarish quality to David Lynch's Mulholland Drive. That's because it really is a nightmare - dreamed by one of the leading characters, who displays an astonishing facility for imagining a more-or-less coherent storyline in the style of David Lynch.

In this picture, all is not even remotely as it seems. Sharp-eyed film buffs will notice quite early on that the characters and situations conform to old Hollywood stereotypes, and may suspect that this dark, sinister view of modern La La land is a skewed one, by somebody with a movie-influenced vision of him or herself.

Eventually we discover that these events are in fact the fantasies of one of the central characters, trying to justify a horrible act of revenge against an ex-lover and her director fiance, but unable to do so, and now on the verge of suicide.

That's my solution, at any rate, and I'm pretty confident it's the one Lynch has in mind. But the film is an elaborate puzzle that each member of the audience has to work out. Many won't bother, put off by some critics telling them (erroneously) that it's a meaningless mess, and by its chequered history: it began as a pilot for a TV series, which ABC rejected, so Lynch resolved the mystery with some late, explanatory scenes and turned it into a movie.

There are plot-lines that seemingly don't lead anywhere, and the effort of deciding what's real and what's fantasy, what's past and what's present does demand an attention span of much more than ten minutes. It does all make sense, but you'll have to work at it, however clever you are.

My big criticism is that there are too many false trails, and that some of the more pretentious passages - such as a largely pointless scene in a theatre infested by posers and performance artists - could be cut. The film is too long, at almost two and a half hours.

Even so, I loved it. Throughout, there is the sense of a great director at the height of his powers. Mulholland Drive is undisciplined and infuriating at times, yet Lynch conjures up an unforgettable atmosphere of unease, suspense and passion. He does for Hollywood what he previously did for rural America, in Twin Peaks.

At the heart of this analysis of how the Dream Factory has distorted our dreams is a marvellous central performance by Naomi Watts (pictured left, with Laura Elena Haring right). Watts is an actress who - unlike the heroine - should have a very bright future.

I was slightly reluctant to give this film five stars, because it isn't for everyone, and Lynch shows his old inability to know when to stop. But so much of it is tremendous, I had to. This is a unique achievement by a colossal talent, and it deserves to join Blue Velvet and The Straight Story at the top of the list of Lynch's best movies.

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