I’m still struggling to come to grips with Mulholland Drive. I’m someone who deals in terms of logic most of the time and that makes Mulholland Drive a difficult film to watch, let alone attempt to make sense of. Logic, if it even exists within the film’s universe, is pushed aside for a surreal storyline, one that doesn’t use logic at all, and instead wants to mess up your visions of the characters contained within it.
David Lynch’s film has an immense amount of interpretations directed towards it, all of which should be ignored until first viewing the film. Instead of looking for clues as to what is really going on, instead just sit there and enjoy the experience. That is what Mulholland Drive really is, an experience. It doesn’t explain much to the audience, and instead wants you to be driven through the story based on two things, emotion and puzzlement.
There is a problem with this is that only one of those things works. The film is confusing and twisted enough to make you want to continue to watch it just to acquire a glimmer of hope that you will figure it out, but it doesn’t work all that well on an emotional level. Why not? Well, I’m actually still trying to figure that one out for myself.
Much like the rest of the film, I don’t think there is any rhyme or reason as to why something works or doesn’t. It either does or doesn’t, and may not necessarily require an explanation. The characters in the film should warrant an emotional attachment. We like them, we can sympathize with them, and they show emotion themselves. Their situations lend themselves to the audience, and allow us to get a greater understanding of the characters.
Despite this, Mulholland Drive‘s characters didn’t resonate with me. Maybe they will with you, I cannot say. I do know that this significantly altered why I kept on watching the film. I didn’t care whether Rita (Laura Elena Harring) found out who she really was, or if Betty (Naomi Watts) ended up becoming a successful actress. I was sadly unable to care about either of those characters, despite the fact that the film gave me every reason to.
Instead of caring about the characters, I was forced to care more about the story. The lack of cohesion throughout it, as well as hoping that it’ll all make sense by the end allowed the viewing to still be enjoyable, if frustrating because everything that occurred happened to characters I had no affection for.
The story itself is something that is hard to explain. Written out, it would not make any more sense than if you watch it for yourself. Instead, a bit of information on the situation we open with will have to suffice. Rita is in a car. That car gets into an accident. She stumbles out and winds up hiding out in an apartment. She has no memory of what has happened, or who she is. Rita is reluctant to find out as well, having the feeling that she is wanted by someone, maybe the police, we aren’t sure.
Enter Betty. who is now going to be living in the apartment. Her aunt is an actress, and Betty gets to live there while her aunt is shooting a movie up in Canada. She finds Rita, and instead of turning her into the police, she spends a large amount of time trying to help Rita find out who she really is.
This is the main story we follow. We also meet secondary characters, the only interesting one being a director by the name of Adam (Justin Theroux). He’s only the most interesting because, like the audience, he doesn’t really know what is going on. He reacts to situations, like the audience, but doesn’t react like a character in a film. He acts like a regular guy, and despite being somewhat of an arrogant character, it’s hard not to feel for him; he’s in the same type of situation we are.
All of these characters I just described are completely different in the final 45 minutes. That’s something to look out for. Those final moments of the film end up completely messing up what we had believed previously and not necessarily in a good way. While this finale lends itself well to being a great way to mess with your mind, as well as making you want to go re-watch the first part of the film, it doesn’t change all that much about what has already happened.
In order for a plot twist to work and stick with the viewer, it needs to do one of two things. It either needs to completely alter what you previously believed to be true, or it needs to be so bizarre that you will continue to think about it. Mulholland Drive doesn’t succeed in the first category, but it does in the second. The twist, or what I can only assume is a twist, is weird, but it doesn’t actually have much barring on the first few parts of the story. It also uses one of the most tired clichés in Hollywood, and I am inclined to dislike it just for that.
Mulholland Drive is an odd film. It doesn’t follow any real conventions, nor does it care if it does. It lives to tell a story, one possibly without much of a point. The story is confusing, opening itself up to many interpretations. Unfortunately, in an emotionally driven film, the characters failed to make much, if any, of a connection with me. This didn’t allow for me to care much for the characters within the story, and instead I cared about it only because I wanted to figure out the mystery behind it.