Mulholland Drive (R) ★★★

Review Date: October 12th, 2001

In Mulholland Drive, director David Lynch once again gives us a totally twisted view of love, obsession--and reality.


The plot is a tricky one to explain--we are talking about David Lynch, after all. Without giving away too many of the film's interesting twists, the story basically focuses on two women. First, there's Rita (Laura Harring), a mysterious woman who loses her memory after surviving a car crash on the famed Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles. Walking around in a daze, she ends up seeking refuge in the home of a stranger who has gone out of town. Then we meet Betty (Naomi Watts), a pretty ingenue who steps off a plane in Los Angeles to seek her fame and fortune as an actress. Betty is set to stay at her aunt's place while she's away on location. Of course, this is the exact house the wounded amnesiac Rita is now hiding out in. After the two meet they try to figure out who Rita is and what happened to her. Things get pretty weird, pretty quick, and what you think is real isn't anywhere near the truth.


Lynch has an uncanny ability to cast unknowns and pull out great performances from them. He did it well in Blue Velvet with Isabella Rossellini and especially in his TV show Twin Peaks, which launched the careers of Lara Flynn Boyle and Sherilyn Fenn. As Rita, Harring is perfect as what Lynch has described as a ''broken doll.'' She gets to look seductively tousled while at the same time coming across somewhat menacing. However, it's the Australian Watts who stands out the most as the perky Betty--only is she really the sunny and optimistic Betty or perhaps someone a little more screwed up? Watts does an amazing job vacillating between the realities of the film and is able to give us two very distinctive personalities. Justin Theroux (American Psycho) also gives an interesting turn as a film director caught in the weird world of movie politics. However, veteran actors Robert Forster and Dan Hedaya, in small parts, seemed to have been used for name only.


The main thing we have to say is that Lynch is back--in all his strange and wondrous ways. Drive was originally shot as an ABC television pilot, which the network eventually passed on. This does not come as a big surprise and may explain why Forster, as a detective and Hedaya, as a shady mob financier, had such small parts. They may have played bigger roles in the television version than in the movie. Nonetheless, if you are a true fan of the director, you'll enjoy all the Lynch-ian elements he's so well known for in the film. From the car crash to a midget sitting in an odd room, he gives it to us in spades, while at the same time telling a fairly compelling and thought-provoking story. Thing is, you may not be entirely sure what happens at the end. This is the one drawback to the movie: it could just be a little too weird for the normal moviegoing set.

Bottom Line

If you're up for a wild ride, Mulholland Drive will affect you and leave you debating about it for years to come.