• James Rutherford

'Mulholland Drive': David Lynch's Landmark Neo-Noir Psychological Thriller


Movie poster for the film Mulholland Drive starring Naomi Watts and Laura Harring

"Mulholland Drive" (2001) is an enthralling neo-noir thriller from the inimitable David Lynch ("Twin Peaks", "Lost Highway") that opens with a violent car crash on the titular Hollywood Hills byway, leaving a stunned, amnesic woman (Laura Harring) staggering away from the wreckage.


Wandering into a nearby home and passing out, the woman is confronted the following morning by Betty Elms (Naomi Watts), an aspiring young actress newly arrived from Canada to the home of her aunt. Eager to assist the disoriented woman (who adopts the name "Rita"), the perky Betty jumps into an investigation that leads the two of them down a tantalizing path of discovery—amid ominous indications that something far more sinister is at play for the two of them.


Originally crafted by Lynch as a pilot for a prospective television series before being rejected by the network, he shelved the project—only to return to it a year later and proceed to flesh out a feature-length film. The original television framework shows through in various interweaving plot lines involving a Hollywood director (Justin Theroux), a hitman (Mark Pellegrino), inquisitive detectives (Robert Forster, Brent Briscoe) and various assorted characters—each of them adding varying degrees of mystique, intrigue and/or humor to the proceedings.


Ultimately, Lynch's additional content brings darker, more macabre turns to the storyline, delving into alternate states of reality that play our in a feverish, dream-like manner. Like scattered fragments of a dense psychological puzzle, it comes together in it's own form of dream logic—reverberating on both intellectual and emotional scales unlike anything seen before on film. In all, it's a unique and masterful modern classic and a landmark in form, content and unorthodox delivery.

 

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