Mulholland Dr. AKA Mulholland Drive
R2 - Holland - A-Film
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (4th May 2004).
The Film

Hollywood doesn't like to take risks, in fact if you look at the films produced by the major studios you'll probably see a pattern. Genre films are what the studios buy into, they know what genres sell to a specific demographic and run with it. There are many genres to pick from, the western, the action film, the buddy comedy, sci-fi, etc. and then there are genres that are named after iconic filmmakers because their voice is so unique their work cannot be classified into a specific genre, David Lynch is just that filmmaker and he makes David Lynch films, that is his genre. Over the years Lynch has been fine-tuning his craft with cinematic masterpieces such as Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, Blue Velvet, Lost Highway and currently with the critically acclaimed Mulholland Drive.
The first time I saw this movie was in 2002 at a film festival, after viewing it I knew that I had just watched a really great movie, I knew this because I enjoyed it from beginning to end, however I couldn't be sure exactly what it was that I had just actually watched. It took me four more times to be able to take in everything that Lynch had created and believe me it wasn't easy, this film is one hell of a mind-f**K. So how does one go about reviewing a film that is so hard to make sense of? Well the answer to that is with great difficulty. To start, I've found a submitted synopsis on imdb that sums up the film quite well:

After a brutal car accident in Los Angeles, Rita (Laura Elena Herring) is the sole survivor but suffers mass amnesia. Wandering into a strangers apartment downtown, her story strangely intertwines with Betty Elms (Naomi Watts), a perky young woman in search of stardom. However, Betty is intrigued by Rita's situation and is willing to put aside her dreams to pursue this mystery. The two women soon discover that nothing is as it seems in the city of dreams.

Mulholland Drive didn't originally start out as a film, in fact a few years ago this was a TV project made in association with the US network channel ABC. Lynch filmed a pilot, which was viewed to ABC executives who hated it. Eventually the show was scrapped and shelved until Lynch was allowed to purchase back his work and with some financing from the fine folks at Studio Canal and decided to turn the TV show into a film. It's quite interesting since in the film there is a storyline that follows a director’s dealing with studio executives and getting nowhere, perhaps this came from Lynch's own experiences?
Either way, the film became both a critical and box office hit earning Lynch the best director award at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival as well as a best director nomination at the Academy awards.
The film is essentially split into two halves, the first half is a bit slow and requires a fair bit of concentration, the first half is essentially an introduction to the two female characters and trying to find out who Rita is? That's the abbreviated version of the first half of the film, then we have the second half of the film. This is where many people will be put through the spin cycle of the washing machine, because suddenly it seems we are thrown into a different film, the characters have different names and their motivations have changed. These two parts are connected in some way and Lynch offers up 10 clues to unlocking the secrets to Mulholland Drive, and they are:

1. Pay particular attention in the beginning of the film: at least two clues are revealed before the credits.
2. Notice appearances of the red lampshade.
3. Can you hear the title of the film that Adam Kesher is auditioning actresses for? Is is mentioned again?
4. An accident is a terrible event... notice the location of the accident.
5. Who gives a key, and why?
6. Notice the robe, the ashtray, the coffee cup.
7. What is felt, realized and gathered at the club Silencio?
8. Did talent alone help Camilla?
9. Note the occurrences surrounding the man behind Winkies.
10. Where is Aunt Ruth?

David Lynch's films seem to transcend the boundaries of conventional filmmaking, one of the reasons that make Mulholland Drive so intriguing, are that many people will form their own theories about the film and get something different from it than others. Essentially Lynch has created a mental choose your own adventure. Although it may be frustrating at first it's certainly worth watching for even the performances alone are amazing. Naomi Watts gives a career making performance as Betty and Laura Elena Herring is just as riveting. Lynch's direction is effortless and manages to get out haunting emotions from his two leads. The film also has a heightened sense of reality with its almost surreal locations and the lush colours primarily reds and greens, which accent the scenarios quite well.

I would like to recommend this film to everyone, but I don't think that this is everyone's sort of film. If you are a Lynch fan and you haven't seen this yet then I suggest you get cracking. If you haven't seen a Lynch film before then rent before you buy.

Video

Presented in the film original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1, this anamorphic transfer is in a word awesome, This DVD transfer presents colour with terrific quality, representing the film's heightened sense of reality very well, the blacks are bold and the shadow detail is spot on.

Audio

This DVD offers the film in multiple audio formats we have an English DTS 5.1, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 stereo as well as French Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 stereo. For the purposes of this review I viewed the film with its DTS track. As this is mainly a dialogue driven film you would think that a DTS track was going a little overboard. I would disagree, as there are many set pieces that require the sound quality DTS offers such as the opening credit sequence/car crash, the club Silencio scene, and Angelo Badalamenti's haunting score to name a few things. The DTS sound is crisp and clear, dialogue comes out perfect without distortion. But the best part of the soundtrack is the score, truly one of the best scores Badalamenti has created for Lynch, truly fantastic. This is a great soundtrack that accentuates an already great transfer. The film also includes subtitles in both Dutch and French.

Extras

As the cover states this is a 2-disc special edition, the film is presented on disc one, while the extras are on the second disc. Both discs have menus that are selectable in either Dutch or French. The first disc menu is rather straightforward. Disc one has some trailers, the first we have the theatrical trailer for Mulholland Drive (with either Dutch or French subtitles, they come up according to what menu you have selected). Other trailers include "Curse of the Jade Scorpion", "Lost Highway" and "Gosford Park"

The second disc's format is quite clever you choose your menu from the touch pad of a telephone. "F" is for French and "N" is for Nederland (or Dutch), to select the French menu you dial the number 3 (which if you look at the letters for number 3 you get D, E & F) to select the Dutch menu dial the number 6 (which if you look at the letters for number 6 you get M, N & O) clever eh? You can dial the other digits as well as # and * and you will get some audio takes from the film.
Once you make it to your special features menu, we are confronted with a "Making-Of" featurette, an Interview with Angelo Badalamenti, an Interview with producer/editor Mary Sweeney, The Big Nowhere photo gallery, some cast and crew filmographies and the theatrical trailer.

The first extra of course is the "Making-Of" featurette, running in at 23 minutes, this featurette includes some interviews with the cast and the director cut in with some behind-the-scenes footage and clips of the film. This is basically no different than your standard EPK style featurette. The featurette offers up some nice exposition of the film as well as some stories from the cast.

The next extra, and my favourite on this set is the 16-minute interview with the composer Angelo Badalamenti. Angelo talks candidly about his relationship with David, how they first met and the music created for Mulholland Drive, he also plays a segment of the score on his piano at the end of the interview.

The second interview is with one of the producer's, who also happens to be the film's editor Mary Sweeney. This interview is entirely in French without English subtitles, so I could not understand what was being said.

The Big Nowhere photo gallery is basically a montage of location photos set to music and cut in with some film footage of the locations.

We also get some filmographies of the cast and crew in English as well as the trailer for the film, which is the same trailer that appears on the first disc.

Although the extras are not bad, it would have been nice to include a full fledged documentary on the making of the film and it's history from TV show to film, there would be no point in asking for a commentary since Lynch is famous for not allowing them on any of his films. One day it would also be nice to be able to see the original pilot to compare to the film.

Overall

In my opinion this is Lynch strongest work, it's one of my favourite films and any true Lynch fan should not miss this, newcomers be prepared for a challenging film that may leave you frustrated. If you don't want a challenge then move on, as this is certainly not for you.

The Film: A Video: A Audio: B+ Extras: A Overall: A

 


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