In this film of studied eccentricity, David Lynch gives us a glimpse into the mystery of talent as he presents a stark dichotomy between a set of actors playing roles in one kind of movie and the same actors playing their "real" roles as life goes on for them off the set. It's a mirror universe inhabited by same but different people and what you see are characters seeming to interchange roles and intersecting with one another in ways that are as incomprehensible as the are varied. You see cliches of moviemaking swept away by alternate reality and your senses somewhat jangled by this peculiar but singular presentation.
But, to suggest the final intelligibility of "Mulholland Drive" would be to give too much away. It might assist understanding and prepare you for what you're about to encounter, but better to experience it with your mind unspoiled by convention.
Before you get past the ticket taker and into the lobby, ask yourself what you might expect from an auteur such as David Lynch. He was, after all, the creator of "Eraserhead" (1977), "Dune" (1984), "Lost Highway" (1997) and other mind adventures. If you don't know what all that adds up to, wait for the video.
But, you'd be missing something as original as it is eccentric. You're not going to get standard story structure but, then, maybe beginning, middle and end are overrated. You'll be strangely fascinated and, perhaps, more than a little disconcerted by the developments as all-American, blonde, unspoiled Betty Elms (Naomi Watts), coming to Hollywood pursuing the usual "discover me" dream, goes to an audition for a role and blows everyone away with a performance that makes you gasp, "where did this come from"? Such talent, so extraordinarily demonstrated as an actress shifts from one character to another is a divine mystery and something to behold.
There's a reason Watts has already won some awards for this performance and why she could be in serious contention for an academy nomination.
If that's not enough to get your unsuspecting eyes into a dark theatre, consider that, as Lynch's vision plays out, you'll be treated to infidelities, lesbianism, mystery, homages to another film or two, and colorful quirkiness. Consider, for example, a spooky midnight rendezvous up a lonely and deserted Beachwood Drive corral with the "Cowboy" (Lafayette Montgomery), a strange and scary denizen of darkness whose threatening potentials might have been inspired by Kobayashi in "The Usual Suspects" or, even, Roman Polanski's Man with Knife in "Chinatown". If that doesn't grab you, wrap your mind around a scene of suggested depravity at "Club Silencio" in which Rebekah Del Rio croons a very odd rendering of Roy Orbison's "Crying" after our two heroines' first taste of love.
Laura Harring plays Betty's adopted roommate with a somewhat zombie-like foot in reality while she wrestles with amnesia and, as well, her lesbian lover cum ex-lover, Camilla Rhodes. Justin Theroux is the recalcitrant movie director Adam Kesher through and through; while Robert Forster makes a cameo appearance as Detective Harry McKnight.
This is noir masquerading as milk and apple pie; open predictability concealing steamy intensity. It moves in a world of delirium and masquerade and the connection, perhaps the justification, is the art of the performer. It's mystifying but surprising with much of the meaning reaching sensibility while you sleep on it afterward.
The Soundtrack album