Mulholland Drive (2001)

The pattern David Lynch tends uses in his more archetypal work is again on display in Mulholland Drive – events organically unfold, the images are striking, the narrative is confusing, characters are not who they seem to be, and in the last twenty minutes he reveals what’s really going on, which is then open to even more interpretations. It’s a heady formula that allows him to explore the psychological themes that clearly fascinate him.

I was pretty frustrated with Mulholland Drive until the last act when, true to form, he performs his magician’s trick. It was created as a pilot for a television series with NBC, which the studio didn’t like, and Lynch then was given money by StudioCanal to finish it as a film. It feels like it was meant to be open-ended, with many elements reminiscent of Twin Peaks, but the ending he came up with does a pretty wonderful job of sealing it in movie form. Like Fire Walk With Me and Lost Highway, the story hinges on the main character’s psychological reaction to trauma, in this case an alternative reality that of course cannot last.

There is only one film left in my May project to watch all of David Lynch’s films. I feel sad the project is ending soon, and there is no more film Lynch to explore, but he’s still making television series, and he might make another movie. He’s not dead yet. I suppose I prefer the Lynch who has to constrain himself to two hours than the one who lets himself sprawl – which takes us neatly into Inland Empire.