David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr. is quite the movie. It’s a bit of a mind-F but in the best possible way. I’ve seen this movie about four times now, the most recent being at the Gateway Film Center. I think I must have been too young before to comprehend the plot because after this viewing I was able to digest and figure out, (I think) what really happens. *Spoiler Alerts will be abound.
At first, the viewer thinks the movie is about Betty (Naomi Watts), a young aspiring actress that just moved to Los Angeles, as she accidentally meets an amnesiac named Rita (Laura Harring) who was in a car accident. The two women try to solve the mystery of what happened to Rita. Their search for answers leads them to dead bodies, piles of cash and quirky arts theaters. The two women also explore each other as they take solace in one another.
Turns out that brightly colored, inticing world is all the dream of Diane Selwyn, an aspiring but failing actress. Diane lives alone and is pretty obsessed with Camilla (Rita from the dream), another actress. Camilla is very successful in her roles and gets Diane small roles in her films as a type of pity. After a fight with Camilla, Diane puts out a hit for her to be killed and falls asleep. The dream sequence described above begins. Later when Diane awakes from the dream she freaks out and kills herself.
A small roles was filled by Justin Theroux who plays Adam Kesher, a film director. The viewer really only knows his character from Betty’s dream, which we find out is all false. So in real life he’s just a normal director who plans to marry Camilla. Melissa George plays a very small role as another young actress. There were so many actors in this film, because Betty’s dream is complex and takes on many different layers.
This was one of Naomi Watts’ first big roles. It really helped put her on the map and showed how dynamic she can be. She’s not afraid to break away from the norm and play dark roles. That might be in part because she’s from Australia and they’re a little more free-spirited there. Laura Harring (The Punisher, Love in the Time of Cholera) was definitely less dynamic than Watts. While still a good actress, in this film her character didn’t call for a ton of talent on her part. She just acted dumb (amnesia). The two actresses worked really well together. Playing such interesting characters would have been a lot of fun.
As writer and director little is known about Lynch’s meanings/motivations. He is a very quirky director but I love the way he connected things from Betty’s dream to real life. It helped decipher that part of the movie was indeed a dream. Oftentimes experiences/motifs from real life will invade our dreams. Lynch has written and directed so many things, including “Twin Peaks,” Blue Velvet and Eraserhead. One theme I’ve seen in both Mulholland Dr. and Blue Velvet is how impluses can take over your life. Even though it’s not always right, the heart oftentimes overpowers what your mind tries to rationalize.