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What's the story?
David Lynch's MULHOLLAND DRIVE is not a story but a mosaic of stories, eras, moods, characters, and themes that intersect, overlap, and parallel like a dream. A luscious brunette (Laura Harring) is about to be shot by a limo driver when a car filled with carousing teenagers slams into the limo. The brunette limps away and hides out in an apartment. She has amnesia, and when asked her name, she says "Rita," as in Rita Hayworth. Betty (Naomi Watts), a fresh-faced ingenue hoping to make it as an actress in LA, tries to help Rita find out who she is. Meanwhile, young director Adam (Justin Theroux) is pressured by some very dangerous-looking guys to give a particular actress the lead in his new movie. Themes of dreams and reality, identity and anonymity, innocence and corruption, creativity and conformity, ripple and resonate in the scenes that follow. Eventually, Betty turns into Diane, who used to be dead, and Betty's aunt's landlady, or is it Adam's mother, is played by 1940's musical star Ann Miller, and all of this does not seem as out of place as it otherwise might. Betty tells Rita that she wants to help her solve the mystery because "It'll be just like in the movies."
Is it any good?
If you like movies that make sense, Mulholland Drive isn't for you. On the other hand, if Twin Peaks was just too upbeat and linear for you and you feel that the references in Blue Velvet were just too obvious and jejune, then this movie is for you. Watts and Herring are outstanding. Betty practices her corny audition scene with Rita with a competent but conventional reading. Then, when she gets to the audition, she completely turns it around, leaving us as breathless as the characters in the scene. Watts later suddenly becomes an entirely different character who has an entirely different history with "Rita" and carries it off splendidly.
Lynch cast unknowns as the leads but populated the margins of the film with old-time stars and semi-stars. This embellishes his themes and adds to the dreamy, half-remembered quality of the story. In addition to Miller, the cast includes Lee Grant, Robert Forster, and the star of the 1960's television show, Medical Center, Chad Everett.
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