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Director: David Lynch
If Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Interstellar, and The Shining all went to a pre-school together, Mulholland Dr. would steal all their crayons and send the lot home in tears.
Some may label it as crazy, while others regard it as one of Lynch’s finest works, but it is undeniable that Mulholland Dr. is an intoxicating liberation from sense, with little narrative order and several instances of temporal disruption. The film is about the nature of the studio system and the sycophantic fantasies of Hollywood, veiled in the story of one young actor (Naomi Watts) and their brush with fame and doused in suspense, psychological horror, mystery, and eroticism. You’d be forgiven for not realising this after your first viewing. After escaping a planned car crash on Mulholland Drive, Rita seeks refuge in a vacated apartment nearby. Betty (Watts), a hopeful young actress finds Rita shocked, confused, and carrying an unusually large sum of money. The two set off to find out more about Rita’s lost identity, becoming tangled in a interweaving web of character developments that eventually connect in various ways.
To navigate through Lynch’s complex storyline, he breaks the film into three sections. The first section—“Part One: She found herself the perfect mystery”—parodies Hollywood cinema style by way of grossly lit scenes and cringe-inducing dialogue. “Part Two: A sad illusion” builds on this further, introducing the protagonists realisations and continuing the film’s comment on Hollywood cinematic style. “Part Three: Love” is where the plot’s accelerating spiral of insanity hits fifth gear.
Upon exiting Mulholland Dr. one can only know that they have witnessed something disturbing, yet special. It’s the kind of film you watch and realise you will never be done pondering its mysteries. Alas, maybe the best way to sum this film up is to refer to the last sentence of its blurb: “No-one comes out with their soul intact.”