David Lynch has been making films since the 70s. Mulholland Dr. sees Lynch traversing a path that has taken him from Eraserhead (1976) to The Straight Story (1999) via The Elephant Man (1980), Blue Velvet (1980), the Palme d’Or-winning Wild Heart (1990), Twin Peaks (1990-91) and Lost Highway (1997). Many of you may have seen some of his films and the television series but possibly only the dedicated have seen them all. It is in Lynch’s filmography that you gain most insight into the meaning, or lack there of, that is evident in his latest opus.
It should be said that Mulholland Dr. will not be everyone’s cup of tea. It has been much anticipated, especially by lesbians, because of the relationship (if you can call it that) between two of the characters. It has divided critics and audiences everywhere it has screened. I admit I am a Lynch fan and have seen most of his work so I found Mulholland Dr. consistent with some of his earlier films, especially Lost Highway.
Lynch describes the film as having three parts entitled: she found herself inside the perfect mystery, a sad illusion and love. Space does not permit even an outline of the plot. You also need to know that Lynch had wanted to make Mulholland Dr. as a series ?a Twin Peaks for the American ABC network. It was knocked back and was eventually made into a film thanks to the French and StudioCanal.
Lynch covers themes familiar to his other films, bizarre characters, strange people who seem to pull the strings, and extreme violence. This is not a film for the viewer who just wants some mindless entertainment. Some will consider it absurdist black noir and others a social commentary on Hollywood. Is it surreal or is it stupid? What is certain is that it makes little sense but is mesmerising in its own way, it is inconsistent, stuffed with dream-like sequences, and is 146 minutes long. Perhaps we are trying to read too much meaning into it -“ maybe it simply is a Nancy Drew hallucination after all!
Australia’s own Naomi Watts, who has been busy doing TV in the States and whom the Americans think is English, shines in her two roles. She deservedly won the Best Actress awards from the American National Society of Film Critics and the National Board of Review. Lynch also won Best Director at Cannes in 2001. Laura Harring, best known as Paula Stevens in the Aaron Spelling soap Sunset Beach, is luscious to look at but just don’t expect too much of the sex scenes, girls.