David Lynch's MULHOLLAND DRIVE is a cross between a slow-motion episode of
"The X Files" and a super long version of "Twin Peaks." A baffling but
always intriguing failure, the movie gets more confusing, not less, as the
story unfolds. Lynch won the director's prize at this year's Cannes Film
Festival for the film. It would have been more appropriate if he had a
gotten a dual award -- a first for directing and a booby prize for writing.
Lynch can make the simple act of walking down a small staircase ominous, but
his script is full of bewildering and unrealistic characters for whom we
Betty Elms (Naomi Watts) is a "golly-gee" kind of would-be starlet who has
just arrived in Los Angeles in order to make her fortune in the movies.
Upon arrival, this innocent blonde goes to her new apartment, where she
finds a mysterious, dark-haired beauty who may or may not be named Rita
(Laura Harring). Rita, who was recently in a car accident, isn't sure of
much about herself, including her own name.
A typically bizarre event at the apartment has a mysterious woman dressed in
a heavy black robe knocking on Betty's door. Looking like someone from a
gothic novel, this stranger in the shadows warns Betty, "Someone is in
trouble. Something bad is happening." When she closes the door, Betty's
only response is, "Wow!" Yours will probably be an equally simplistic,
"Huh?" You'll be thinking that a lot during this movie, which needs a
pictorial scorecard to keep track of all of the quirky characters who make
brief appearances. One known only as "The Cowboy," who acts like he's
attempting Jedi mind tricks, is perhaps the most bizarre character.
Meanwhile, across town director Adam Kesher (Justin Theroux) is casting his
new movie. A couple of strange Mafia types insist that, for the leading
role, Adam must choose their actress, Cammie Rhodes (Melissa George) -- no
relation. One of these perplexing bad guys asks for an espresso and a
napkin, which he uses to slowly spit out the drink when it is not up to his
Almost every scene is full of foreboding, although the source of the danger
is never quite clear. Frequently Lynch appears to have his camera dolly
floating on a gently undulating sea in order to enhance the audience's
Before the ending credits roll, there is a murder, some mistaken identities,
a puzzling small box, a couple of Lesbian love scenes and one confusing
incident after another. "I'm going to trust you to sort this thing out,"
Coco (Ann Miller) tells Betty at one point. Good luck.
MULHOLLAND DRIVE runs way too long at 2:26. It is rated R for "violence,
language and some strong sexuality" and would be acceptable for older
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes