Mulholland Dr. Review

David Lynch is often as infuriating as he is genius. Some of his films are the greatest examples of contemporary filmmaking, such as Elephant Man and Blue Velvet, whereas others such as Dune and Lost Highway leave just as many detesting as praising. Some of the sequences in Lynch's films suggests that he even considers the audience his enemy, and aims to do anything he can to take the pleasure out of their movie-watching experience. He is therefore one of the most enigmatic directors in the world today, and the fact that he refuses to participate in DVD commentaries or plot discussions clearly helps fuel the construction of his bizarre persona.

Mulholland Dr. is another Lost Highway in the sense that just when the plot appears to resemble something logical Lynch seems perfectly happy to destroy it. Indeed, Mulholland Dr. could even be regarded as slightly more irritating than Lost Highway, since for the most part the first two 'acts' of the film seem to suggest that the final act pay-off might resemble something satisfactory for the audience. Anyone who thought that should know better. Mulholland Dr. clearly indicates that Lynch is one of the most courageous and skillful directors to ever make a film. It's as if he has finally crafted a film in which the story is totally divorced from his own craft. This is not an easy accomplishment, as Mulholland Dr. is a film that you will want to watch again, not because of the appeal that more plot elements might reveal themselves (because they clearly don't) but because the viewer wants to further indulge in Lynch's style of filmmaking.

As others have found, it is completely futile to attempt to give any sort of summary of plot for Mulholland Dr.. Basically, the film involves a wannabe actress who becomes intertwined with a mysterious woman on the run. Soon the two embark on a lesbian affair, and aim to together solve the mystery that they seem to have been plunged headfirst into. Be warned that Mulholland Dr. is about as unconventional as it can be, and events turn so bizarre by the third act of the film that certain characters have even apparently swapped places with each other in the plot.

Whereas Kyle McLachlan's character Jeffrey Beaumont became increasingly drawn to a world of danger and sexual intrigue in Lynch's masterpiece Blue Velvet, you can sense in Mulholland Dr. that Lynch wants the audience themselves to become the film's protagonist. It's as if Lynch is throwing in a concoction of danger, sex, mystery and suspense in order to subtly draw us into the film's baffling world that exists nearer the surreal as opposed to the real.

Mulholland Dr. has barely any stars in the film, as it was originally filmed in 1999 on a small budget as a made-for-TV pilot show. However, as no network would come near the show because of its deliberately unflinching and baffling storylines, new scenes were filmed one year later with financing from studio Studio Canal +. This was done in order to 'wrap up' the open ending which had been left unresolved in the original TV-Pilot version so that a TV series could follow continuously. The ironic joke being that the ending Lynch tacked on to Mulholland Dr. did nothing but add to the confusion.

You could sit down for years and analyse the plot to Mulholland Dr., but Lynch probably doesn’t want you to, and anyway, critic Roger Ebert tried his damnedest with a bunch of a thousand students to study the film intensely, and found nothing hidden within its deep/shallow (depending on how you look at it) layers. Even the ten “clues” Lynch provides on the inlay card of the DVD makes matters worse – they could be clues or they could be red herrings provided solely for Lynch’s sadistic amusement. It’s possible the film is about a girl suffering from delusions after the break-up of her lesbian relationship, and yet it is equally possible that this lesbian relationship never existed at all, or even that this storyline has nothing to do with the film’s central narrative, if the central narrative even exists itself! This is the problem/genius of Lynch.

Mulholland Dr. is a ferocious assault to the senses that will win as many Lynch fans as it does disgust his cynics, it’s a more enjoyable experience than Lost Highway but that isn’t saying much, as the film is still deeply unsettling and mind-boggling in its presentation. The ‘central’ performances by Naomi Watts and Laura Harring are superb considering the film’s television origins, and Justin Theroux and Ann Miller provide strong support. It’s the sort of film that benefits from the lack of any big star names being attached to it, as this helps add to the overt mystique of the film. Just watch the film and see what you make of it yourself, without believing anyone who either praises it or criticises it, as the film, despite being a postmodernist mishmash of genres and narrative, is completely critic-proof.

Academy Awards 2001

Academy Awards 2001
Best Director – David Lynch

Presented in matted anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen, Mulholland Dr. exhibits fine picture quality with an excellent clarity associated with its images. Colour tones are sharp and vivid and images are lacking in artefacts or grain. This was a David Lynch-supervised transfer though, so expect the film to look wonderful. Also, Lynch himself ‘apparently’ indulged in some self-censorship and blurred Laura Harring's groin area in the sequence where she climbs into bed with Naomi Watts, because he is alleged to have disapproved of photos showing up on the internet of Harring’s nude sequences.

Because of the film’s television origins, the 5.1 sound mix is understandably lacking in any extensive or dynamic range. There are little surround elements incorporated into the mix, despite the utilisation of a DTS mix on the DVD that is barely any different to the 5.1 mix. Despite these minor detractions, the sound tracks are presented very clearly with an often-immense power to some of the sound elements, and the DTS mix adds greater emphasis to some of the more explosive/intense moments of the film.

Menu: A static menu that includes some portions of the film’s score, therefore maintaining a very moody ambience for the ‘foyer’ to the film.

Packaging: Presented in bog-standard amaray packaging with two different cover artworks available (each one having either Naomi Watts or Laura Harring on the front), fans will be delighted with the inlay-card inclusion of ten clues to the film from David Lynch, even if the do nothing but add to the confusion surrounding the film. However, DVD aficionados will be very disappointed with the lack of chapter stops for Mulholland Dr., as Lynch regards them with contempt, claiming that they spoil the continuity of the film. It’s possible that this is just another element of hindrance to the plot detectives of the film.


Original Theatrical Trailer: It’s always funny to see how marketing departments treat directors like Lynch in terms of marketing his films, and this trailer is hilarious, in that it skillfully avoids any mention of what the film is actually like in terms of viewing or experiencing it. Unfortunately, as Lynch despises extra features (that and other factors suggesting him to be the DVD Anti-Christ), this trailer and the Cast & Crew Biographies are all that can be found on the DVD.

Cast & Crew Biographies: Biographies of the main cast and crew members of the film, presented as text on screen.


Possibly the most ‘Lynchian’ David Lynch film of them all is given a technically sound but predictably barebones release. That’s probably all you can expect, based on the fact that Lynch hates extra features, so if you are a fan of the film, this release will please you. However, if you haven’t seen it, be sure to rent Mulholland Dr. first.

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Last updated: 19/04/2018 17:47:04

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