Saturday, May 31, 2014

Indie Review: Mulholland Dr. (2001)

                   A Rather Hypnotic Look At A Town Built On Dreams Is A Ride Down 'Mulholland Dr.'

                          As I've mentioned in my review of Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood usually doesn't make movies that show its rather darker sides. But that is what the indie-verse is for as they tend to go places Hollywood would never go. After bringing us to the dark underworld of suburbia in Blue Velvet, director David Lynch brilliantly brings us to the darkness of Hollywood in another masterpiece known as Mulholland Dr.

                     Mulholland Dr. is about an aspiring actress named Betty Elms (Naomi Watts) who moves into her relative's apartment in Hollywood, only to find an amnesiac woman (Laura Elena Harring) who names herself Rita after actress Rita Hayworth. As the film progresses, both Betty and Rita try to uncover Rita's memory while they slowly begin to come to grips with reality in a town full of broken and aspiring dreams.

                     What I Liked About It:
                    I'll start off with the direction by David Lynch. The way he directs this film is nothing short of genius. He shoots the first half in the style of an older 50's film in color and that not only gives the film a nostalgic vibe, but fits the first half's dream-like atmosphere. But, by the time the second half rolls around, it looks much more realistic. The whole film is about "dream vs. reality" and the way Lynch shoots both halves of the film really plays into that conflict. He even uses special motifs to get the audience to analyze what they represent. I'll only point out a few. One involves a scene where an actress doing an audition is lip-synching to a song called "I've Told Every Little Star" by Linda Scott. That is one scene that shows how Hollywood is built on illusion. As many of us know, actors always fake and sometimes singers fake their voice, so what we usually see or hear from artists in Tinseltown is not always real and that is one of a few scenes that showcases that idea. There is another scene in the beginning that involves two men walking towards the rear of a diner, only for a decrepit homeless person to suddenly appear. The way I see it, the homeless person is like a shadow for those that don't want to fail and those in the film that do see this person find themselves in fear of it. The whole film is meant to make you think and the different motifs Lynch uses are open to interpretation.

                    Another thing that to me makes the film is Naomi Watts' transcendent performance. She actually plays two different characters and makes you believe that the characters are played by two different actresses, even though she doesn't go through some kind of physical transformation. That is wonderful acting. Not to mention, the way she transitions from one character to the next, from the more upbeat and optimistic Betty Elms to the more pessimistic fallen dreamer Diane Selwyn, is nothing short of brilliance. Naomi Watts gives one of the greatest performances EVER put on screen. Her co-star Laura Elena Harring is just as astounding. She also gives a dual performance as both "Rita", the lost amnesiac, and the rather sleazy social-climbing actress Camilla Rhodes. Like Watts, the way Harring suddenly switches from Rita to Camilla is nothing short of brilliance. Even if the movie was awful, Watts and Harring's performances would still be the best thing about it.

                   What I Didn't Like About It:

                 Overall, Mulholland Dr. is a hypnotic yet haunting noir thriller that will keep you guessing throughout the film. It may require more than one viewing, as it is one you have to uncover as you watch it, but I would still highly recommend it. I would especially recommend it to those that love to analyze and study film. If you like to do that, then look no further than this film.

Grade: A+