Mulholland Drive

Mulholland Drive ★★★★★

A different category; Review somebody else's response to a movie.

One of my top ten films viewed through the eyes of someone who found Upstream Color "vague"; was an reinvigorating experience.

It surprised me how quickly we get to the diner/back of the diner scene. Placing this masterful non-sequitur up front when it could be placed at any point is a forceful indicator of Lynch's intentions. The dream/nightmare becomes reality. An image has the power to stop a man's heart. Every scene, however, seemingly, disconnected from the narrative has it's own power, awarded to it by the diner scene. "anything could happen now". Anything. And it does. Lynch allows himself the freedom to take each hermetically sealed scene in any direction he pleases. It is pleasing that, on many occasions, he chooses comedy. For such a portentous powerful movie to take the comedic route so often; in the director adultery scenes, the inept hitman sequence, gives the movie breadth and delivers more power to the dark sections that follow. Hollywood staples like comedy, musicals, 50s teen movies (that tiny car crash scene at the start), noir, melodrama are revered throughout. The glimmer and luster hiding power, corruption and lies.

The film's shattered chronology and loose grip on reality appear deliberately to obfuscate the truth. The frustrated reaction I got was that it was trying to be clever. My response is that form fits theme here. Diane Selwyn's mind is fractured to the point of insanity. Lynch reflects that madness in the movie's presentation. By the time she delivers the venomous killer stare at her "friend" it has become clear how twisted is the world she inhabits. Her motive for murder is obvious because we have watched the abuse she has been subjected to, exemplified in the childlike "I wish" fantasy she constructs in her sleep to force back the destructive jealousy and guilt she feels for her act of revenge. The one we never see. At one point her neighbour says "oh those two cops have been around again" and you feel Lynch straining to stop himself saying anymore. Diane's fate is sealed in that phrase alone.

On a first viewing how would anyone pick up on that level of detail? Impossible given the disorientation of the story up to that point. Where does dream end and reality start? The diner scene tells you that the borderline is imperceptible and by extension it says "you better let go of reality because it won't help you here". Lynch allows himself to take any tangential flight that strikes him and the only connective tissues are the blurred overall narrative and the love and hate he feels for Hollywood. Love/hate feel interchangeable to the director in this film. The ambition to create art produces greed, envy and a lust for power. People's heartfelt desires are derided. The search for talent and good work diverted by insatiable avarice and hunger for power. Sweetly nasty.

If the film is impossible to decipher when you first watch it then why watch again? She questioned whether this film was "popular" as if to say how could anyone like that? My answer to that latent question was that the interest you feel in those individual scenes, which can't cohere until the film ends have to carry you to the end. I think she lost engagement by the time of the "Silencio/Crying" theatre scene, where the ringleader is practically shouting "there is no reality" at you. I think that is a laudibly long way into the film. There aren't any signposts up to the point when the Cowboy says " wake up pretty girl", which is too late.

My positive reply to her confusion and loss of interest was that maybe some night when she wants to watch a movie and her mood is right. On that night only Mulholland Drive will satisfy. The magnitude of the power of some of those scenes; the simple disgorging of espresso into a serviette or the faceless body or Keshner pouring pink paint onto jewellery. Or of course the inescapable horror of the walk to the back of the diner. Lynch's artistry will drag you back in and it will make a little more sense the second time. More importantly you will be more prepared to let go of reality and bathe in the cinematic power and beauty.

"At least you now know where one of the boundaries of cinema lies". If you don't want to go near the outer limits again that's fine. For a lot of people however once you know where the edge of the world is you want to go there again through animal curiosity. You want the test and the challenge and you want to stand under that waterfall with no control over what is hitting you. It has the value of altering your perceptions. The size and shape of cinema must change once you have experienced Mulholland Drive.

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