Mulholland Drive, the 2001 offering from the mind of David Lynch, is nothing short of a masterpiece. The picture brims with surrealism, neo-noir and mystery, and together, these three distinct Lynchian hallmarks make it a compelling watch. Written and directed by the coiffured auteur, the film stars Naomi Watts, Laura Harring and Justin Theroux, and between them, the actors deliver a triptych of stellar performances.
Typical of a David Lynch feature, the film polarised opinion on release, gaining “some of the harshest epithets and some of the most lavish praise in recent cinematic history.” This is all relative, of course, as it won the Best Director Award at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival, which Lynch shared with Joel Coen for The Man Who Wasn’t There. Retrospectively, it is credited with creating Watt’s Hollywood profile and launching Harring’s career.
Mulholland Drive is also regarded as one of Lynch’s most nuanced opus’. Much like all of his feature-length works, it is a series of juxtapositions. Cliché and surreal, nightmares and fantasies, nonlinear storylines, camera work, sound and lighting all comprise this spine-chilling work. This use of contrasts places the audience within the film, a terrifying prospect given the weaving narrative that takes us to the darkest corners of Hollywood.
The film challenges viewers to suspend any preconceived notions of cinema, or at least, the way we are conditioned to digest cinema. Lynch whisks us away on a rollercoaster of his own design through this mesh of techniques, and by the end, you’ll be gasping for air.
One of Lynch’s best moments, Mulholland Drive, is a must-watch for those who haven’t yet seen it. For those that have, it may come as little surprise to find out that it was originally inspired by Lynch’s magnum opus, Twin Peaks. Lynch first developed the idea as a spin-off from Twin Peaks following the character of Audrey Horne. The famous audition scene in the movie is directly lifted from the script of episode two of Twin Peaks, where Bobby confronts Shelly about the abuse Leo is inflicting on her.
Furthermore, Mulholland Drive was initially created as a television series for ABC. Lynch filmed the pilot, but the network wasn’t a fan so they pulled the plug. Luckily for Lynch and Mulholland Drive, though, he received funding from film studio Studio Canal, which gave him the requisite tools to develop it into a feature-length picture.
Watch the trailer for Mulholland Drive below.