David Lynch is a true indie film maker. He makes his movies his way and never seems too concerned with whether or not they’re accessible or will find an audience. But every few years, one breaks through and goes beyond his own cult audience, hitting hard with mainstream success. Movies like Blue Velvet and Lost Highway will pop up, and remind regular movies goers that the dude who made Twin Peaks is still around. The last movie of his that I remember breaking through big, was Mulholland Drive.
After being the sole survivor of a major car accident, Rita (Laura Harring), dazed and confused, catatonically wanders the streets. Landing in Los Angeles fresh faced and wide eyed, Betty (Naomi Watts) has dreams of making it as an actress. When she moves into a Melrose Place style building, she finds Rita in her shower, naked, only a smidge above catatonic and suffering from amnesia regarding how she got there and where the bundle of cash she has came from.
While Betty helps Rita regain her memory, Adam (Justin Theroux) is off in his own storyline. A movie director on the edge, his move is falling apart and some mob like heavies are on the lookout for him. Things really turn bad when he finds his wife in bed with… Wait for it… Billy Ray Cyrus.
From the weird blank stares and smiles, to the strange, deliberate way of speaking, to the meticulous movements people make, to the costumes and hair styles, you can tell every minute aspect of this movie had been thought out and agonised over by Lynch. I don’t think a single thing happens in Mulholland Drive that wasn’t directed to within an inch of its life. Sometimes, that sort of control can suck all the life out of a movie, but with Lynch, his vision and intent are so singular and fully formed, an iron fist must be the only way he stands a chance of getting that vision on screen.
Because this is a David Lynch movie, there’s more than one conversation where characters talk in obtuse riddles that go nowhere, asking questions that have no answers. I used to hate this kind of thing. If I didn’t get it, I felt like the movie was calling me dumb. Now, I realise it doesn’t matter if I get it or not. In a lot of cases, I truly believe there’s nothing to get. When well executed, I don’t think it matters if even the writer or director gets it. Sometimes, raising the questions and letting the audience come to their own conclusions is enough.
I think it’s just enough here. I don’t see Mulholland Drive as the classic or masterpiece so many people profess it to be, but it is an intriguing movie that almost hypnotised me into liking it. It’s exactly what I expected from David Lynch, and I don’t mean that as a compliment or a criticism. Lynch makes Lynch movies, and love them or hate them, it’s great that he’s out there, doing his bit to keep cinema just a little bit weird.