Sometimes I can be a little slow on the uptake pertaining to certain movies or music. It happens to everyone, there’s just not enough time in the world to see and hear and everything. But there are a certain number of films/albums that are generally considered to be classics, things you really should see before it’s too late, and I think most fans of film would put Mulholland Drive near the top of that list. I never had anything against it, just never had a burning desire to see it. Lately though, Kyle and I have started watching Twin Peaks, another Lynch classic that neither of us had seen (I was 8, Kyle was 4). But he’s a huge fan of Mulholland Drive, and his enthusiasm got me excited for it.
I really didn’t know what to expect of the movie. From the two episodes of Twin Peaks that I’ve seen, I knew it would be weird in the best ways. David Lynch is phenomenal and being just weird enough that it feels like it doesn’t drift into absurd, or at least not that I’ve seen so far. Mulholland Drive takes a similar cue that Twin Peaks does, the idea of an ideal, pristine life, that in all reality, is a fucked up mess. If you haven’t seen the movie, don’t read any further, here’s where get into the nitty gritty.
I’m really glad that I didn’t see this film until now. Being 28 gives you a lot more perspective than I think my 19 year old self would have had. After we watched the film, I told Kyle what I thought the movie meant, “She paid to switch bodies with Camille.” He laughed at me and plainly said, “No.” So I asked him what the hell it was, and he simply said, “It was all a dream.”
“Oh. Yeah, that actually makes a lot of sense.”
From what I’ve heard from a lot of people is how weird it is, and how it makes no sense. That statement is partially true, but only the first time you watch it, and perhaps if you have no one to tell you what the hell it all means. But I put the pieces together rather quickly. The movie starts out with someone, in a haze, falling asleep in a bed. And then the weirdness starts. But imagine if you cut the movie, putting everything that happened after Rita/Camille opened the box at the beginning instead. It would be a film about an actress who’s down on her luck, striving to succeed in Hollywood, who then falls in love with a more successful actress and pays to haver her killed, which is then followed by a weird, guilt-ridden dream.
The entire dream is the ideal version of what Betty/Diane wishes her life had been. All of the characters seen in this part are fragments of people seen throughout the “real” part of the movie, which includes the Cowboy, the paranoid man in the diner, Coco the landlord/Adam’s mother. Here are some of my favorite pieces:
• She dreams that Rita/Camille was almost killed but was spared at the last second. In a stupor, Rita/Camille just happens to wander into her aunt’s home where she can take care of her and become closer to her.
• Betty/Diane is fresh in Los Angeles and has already landed an amazing audition, which is something she never has.
• Betty makes love to Rita, saying she’s never done something like that before, though this is completely untrue.
• The director, Adam Kesher, is seen being forced to cast “Camille” into the main role in his movie. Really, all of these characters, Castigliani Brothers and Mr. Roque, are a way for Betty/Diane to explain away why she didn’t get the role. That Adam wanted her to play the role, but these mystery men and their secret society prevented it from happening. This is also reenforced by the scene where Adam stares longingly at Betty from his director’s chair.
• When Betty and Rita go to Diane Selway’s apartment they’re greeted by Diane’s ex-girlfriend. The entire time the ex stares at Rita, knowing that she was the reason why their relationship ended. This part felt very much like Inception, where the person’s subconscious is angry at another part. It’s also worth nothing that Rita is dressed in black and red, and the way her cardigan is tied resembles a black widow.
• The blue key signifies death, and when Rita/Camille opens the box she’s greeted with death. I think it’s pretty straightforward.
• The paranoid man in the diner scene was originally seen by Diane in the same diner at the end, she glances at him briefly. This is the same diner that Betty and Rita visit to make a phone call and where she meets the hitman.
• In Diane’s dream, the hitman kills 3 random people and steals a black book. The black book is seen with the real hitman in the diner. I think the 3 random people he kills are meant to show Diane’s lack of faith in him, that he’s a bungling idiot.
• Not really sure who the creepy guy behind the diner is, but I’m guessing he represents death/jealousy/fear. I don’t think it’s meant to be over analyzed, he’s just bad news.
Not sure if I missed anything, but I hope you like my dump of thoughts. If there’s anything you think I missed or disagree with let me know in the comments. Overall I just have to say that I loved this film, and I understand why everyone raves about. Really looking forward to watching and finishing Twin Peaks now, I’m sure it’ll be equally as great.