• Angus McGregor

First Time Watch; Mulholland Drive

The whole point of this series was to encourage myself to watch more films from the past, perhaps blind spots in my film-watching, catching up on beloved classics or simply opening myself up to new films and directors. Now David Lynch is a name I see so often on social media. I'm lucky if I go a day without a reference to Lynch or his films on my twitter timeline, with a clear hardcore set of fans being very vocal about the director. I have to say, whenever something comes up about 'Twin Peaks', his Laura Dern connection or even the term 'Lynchian', I have absolutely no idea what they're really on about.

So in an attempt to broaden my horizons, catch up on a director I should've done a long time ago and simply understand the memes, I went to Mubi, who were once again pestering me to watch a certain film. The film in question is, again, another thing I constantly see talked about online, leaving me like Scrooge watching everyone have fun in my absence. But alas, no more shall I be excluded as finally, I watched Mulholland Drive! Do I completely understand the film and will that help me fully understand what everyone is saying about it? Absolutely not!

Plot Synopsis: Rita, a dark-haired amnesiac, and Betty, a perky blonde actress, team up to find clues related to Rita's accident and ascertain her true identity.

David Lynch on numerous occasions has refused profusely to delve into 'Mulholland Drive' and explain what his intentions were or what the film's meaning and true interpretation really is. Online, you can find numerous different interpretations and theories, from established film critics to the actual stars of the film. This alone showcases just what kind of film 'Mulholland Drive', with a surreal narrative creating a widely interpreted story filled with ambiguity. For some, this will instantly turn people off but the film is full of mystery and tension that makes it entirely compelling.

From the offset, Lynch creates an abundance of mystery, a car crash following an attempted assassination the perfect set up to create intrigue with little dialogue. The mystery only continues to build, with revelations and dream sequences adding intrigue and importantly, tension. Within the opening couple of scenes, Lynch creates many ties with characters with fluid camerawork and an eery silence putting you directly in the character "Rita's" position, perfectly encapsulating the paranoia she is feeling. An interesting use of a jump scare in a dream sequence also adds to this, with the slow camera movement from the character's perspective setting up early that a threat can come from anywhere, even in bizarre form.

Following an aspiring actress as well as a director, the film looks into the film industry, mainly that of within Los Angeles. There's a plucky upstart with eyes as wide as the sea who is full of excitement due to simply being in Los Angeles showcasing the dreams of aspiring actors/actresses. There's also an insight into the politicking and influences within filmmaking and studio heads, with differing opinions to suit different agendas. This combines well with the depiction of Hollywood hopefuls, with the new actress having everything be all hunky-dory and cheery, contrasting completely to the disgruntled director who despite acclaim doesn't appear to have much control or enjoyment.

But everything that you seem to think you know about the film and perhaps where it is heading is completely thrown out the window, with a stunning twist changing all previous perceptions. A late-night art performance completely shatters the viewer's perceptions as well as the characters themselves, flipping the entire film on its head, risking losing its audience at the same time. For some, such an excessive change will turn many off but the film opens up many more doors as to what is going on in such intriguing fashion.

There's no definitive clarity to 'Mulholland Drive', with your own interpretations having to do as the answers will not be given. The film offers speculation, with Lynch truly revelling in this aspect, and discussion to be carried on furthermore. You're left speculating every little detail for days afterwards, trying to grasp what has happened and piece everything together. With this, you continue for days, the film's mystery truly sticking with you and will furthermore. You end up reading up heading down a rabbit hole of theories and before you know it you've wasted many hours purely on speculation.

It's clear to see why this film is so beloved, with its style, narrative, depictions of desire and much more creating an utterly compelling watch. Full of mystery and subtle clues, this film is for sure one that will get even better on rewatches with a desperation to find out more about what is a truly fascinating film. Definitely not for everyone but as a piece of art, it succeeds tremendously and offers so much in its runtime.

Final Rating: 4.5/5

I can definitely see this film being notched up in its rating following a rewatch that I'll need to make time for. As always, thanks so much for taking the time to read my review, it is very much appreciated and I hope you enjoyed my ramblings about a bizarre but great film. Make sure to return soon for more reviews on both old and new films very soon! Once again, thank you so much and continue to stay safe!

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