As much as I dislike pure surrealist cinema, I find myself liking David Lynch and his work. This is a type of surrealism I can get behind; the kind that isn’t random for randomness’ sake, but rather has a meaning behind everything, as opaque and convoluted as that meaning may be, and a fantasy-esque air about it that makes you feel like you’re floating in whatever cinematic mood the film you’re watching instills in you. Twin Peaks was a good example, and so is this one, essentially a spiritual follow-up to that previous go by Lynch at a television pilot; Mulholland Drive. Any delving into the plot past the first two-thirds of the film will probably be a shoddy attempt on my part to try and explain what the hell this movie is actually about, so I won’t bother; see it for yourself, and make your own judgements.
It turns out, this is a pretty normal noirish mystery for about the first two hours of the runtime. There’s a young ingenue actress, played by Naomi Watts, who finds an amnesiac car accident victim in her new apartment, played by Laura Elena Harring, and resolves to help her figure out who she is, while at the same time trying to further her burgeoning acting career. At the same time, there’s a director named Adam Kesher, played by Justin Theroux, who is being coerced into casting an actress he doesn’t want in his next film by a group of mysterious people. These and other seemingly unrelated storylines all intertwine and develop, and for a while, things are progressing pretty normally. Then the blue box opens, and everything is fucking thrown out the window. People are different characters, the whole world feels different; it’s quite the head-spinner when you first see it. As to what’s going on, I won’t pretend to know what that would be; I will definitely have to see this a few more times to even begin to unravel the jumbled ball of wire that is Mulholland Drive.
Thankfully, because of Lynch’s excellent direction and deft handling of his material, I can watch this again and still not be too bored by it (though it is a tad long). I imagine most of that time will be spent looking for clues and making connections rather than watching for the plot itself, which I pretty much gathered the first time around, but hey, that’s the fun in it, I can assume. As I mentioned in the opener, Mulholland Drive was initially a television pilot, and thus was intended to be a lot more open-ended to lead into the series, but it wasn’t picked up, so Lynch tacked on an ending and made it a feature film. That explains a lot of why the film is the way it is; it definitely feels like a slow, methodical, deliberate story is developing for the first two hours, then the film just skips all the rest in favor of presenting us with the ending instead. That sounds a lot worse than it actually is, fortunately; there’s a clear picture to be found here, I just have no idea what it is. I expect the rest of my night to go along the lines of searching around the interwebs for certain sites I know must exist, dedicated to unraveling this mysterious film. Even if there is a unified, complete version of the mystery behind this film to be found, I expect that finding it will only heighten my enjoyment of the mystery should I watch this film again. And I know I’m definitely going to watch this film again.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10