After a car wreck on the winding Mulholland Drive renders a woman amnesic, she and a perky Hollywood-hopeful search for clues and answers across Los Angeles in a twisting venture beyond dreams and reality.
In this brilliant and unsettling film from master director David Lynch we discover a cornerstone in the history of Cinema just like Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon or his 2001: A Space Odyssey and more recently, Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life. This is the work of an auteur that has let himself express pure feelings without really getting into the details of narratives and conventional storytelling grammar. Those personal films have done so much to the media while getting some head scratchers to their viewers. In the same time, those are works of pure unpolished diamonds of directors that knows their audience is wise enough to put the pieces of the puzzles together and digest the mass of images, movements, feelings, and sounds that their work has to offer. It might not be as clear and readable as, let’s say, P.T. Anderson’s masterpiece There Will Be Blood but it is as bold and rich in meanings.
With Mulholland Drive, David Lynch demonstrates his love and passion for Los Angeles and the old Hollywood while in the same time playing with the wacky possibilities of Film Noir and character development. It is also clear that we are in a state of dream and that Los Angeles represents the city of dreams. An important fact is that Lynch actually lives on Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles. This story was one he thought a long time before shooting it and the shooting locations were very close to his home. He explores the traditional themes of the Film Noir with the change of personalities and the plot holes that are left to be filled by the audience’s comprehension. He also visits the Western genre, the thriller genre, and the love story. Without being clear about them but always in a way that suggests more than clearly elaborates on any of the levels of the plot.
There’s also a strong feeling of a Bergmanian transfert of personality of the famous masterpiece Persona and also an easy reference to Lynch’s own Lost Highway. Trying to dissect the meanings and sub meanings of Mulholland Drive could take many thousand words and it won’t be the case of this review. Moreover, it would be a repetition of many already well written movie reviews. However, I would suggest that it is a mandatory film that have and will influence the movies and the tv series of our culture.
At first, the whole idea was a pilot for a tv show by Lynch for ABC but it was rejected because the cut was raw, too slow, and let an open end for a series of many episodes. In a way, Lynch was happy that the pilot was rejected. He then received a 7 million of dollars financing from StudioCanal to complete the pilot into a feature film that we all know.
It is, by far, one of the most dense and also personal projects from Lynch. Followed by the excellent Inland Empire, Mulholland Drive still holds the pole position as Lynch’s masterpiece into many experts and cinephiles. The author of these lines would put Blue Velvet as the greatest Lynch because of its more conventional structure and genuine story. As a final note I would add that if you haven’t seen Mulholland Drive and even if you don’t like it and even hate it, it is at least some of the few essential movies of all time.