David Lynch is a master. Why he is not included along Stanley Kubrick more often is beyond me. I guess I’m not really well-versed enough in film to make those proclamations, but isn’t that what our society is all about? “Hey, I just saw or read something, and now I have an opinion!” Twin Peaks was great until midway through the second season when he stopped directing them. Blue Velvet is taught in most film schools (so I have heard), and all of his films have a very unique quality to them that virtually no other filmmaker even attempts to achieve – immensely imaginative and thoroughly innovative creativity. In my opinion, like a drug that opens your mind, the best creative endeavors also make you think a bit afterwards, and even question what you just saw. No one is better at that than David Lynch.
Mulholland Drive starts with a simple enough premise: A woman escapes a would-be kidnapping thanks to an automobile accident. With a bump on the head, she escapes to an unknown residence. Betty Elms (Naomi Watts) shows up the residence, which belongs to her aunt, with the ambition to break into Hollywood acting while crashing at her aunt’s initially. She finds the woman who can’t remember anything due to the bump on the head. Elms then sets out to solve the case of who may have tried to kidnap this woman, all while making it to her auditions in the process.
From there, it gets very David Lynch-y. Odd cowboy guys, bizarre psychological phenomena, role changes, flashbacks, and a variety of mind-altering visuals that create a multitude of possibilities as to what just happened, what could happen, and what it all means. It’s a perfect film for sitting around with your dumb stoner friends positing all sorts of theories. “Maybe that was like her vision of what she could have been?” “Maybe that was Lynch’s idea of how Hollywood strings are pulled.” “Maybe she lost her innocence along the way.” I would imagine this film appeals to film buffs, dumb stoners, and everyone in between.
Perhaps movies now are too straight-forward and there’s no real room for psychedelic weirdness. It is a big gamble to give a filmmaker a bunch of money and then say, “Ok, go ahead and make this so non-linear and bizarre that people aren’t really sure what they saw.” That might not always translate into huge financial success. But when you do see it happen, you can’t help but feel thankful that at least a few movies get made in this style.
Not all movies have to have that element of, “Here’s what I think that represents…” but I’m glad a few do. Luckily we have David Lynch, and this is one of his best. Naomi Watts is terrific in this. She has to do that thing that is virtually impossible where her character is told, “Now show us how well you can act.” And that usually comes across terribly to the viewing audience, but in this case she really nails it. Laura Herring plays “Rita” and does a splendid job. And Justin Theroux is good as a hotshot director. It won several awards and launched a lot of careers, so why review it now? Chris and Graham said they needed more reviews, and this movie really holds up. Do yourself a favor and watch it. And if you have a bunch of questions afterwards, we can like discuss it, man.