Review by Michael Jacobson
Naomi Watts, Laura Elena Harring, Justin Theroux, Ann Miller, Robert
Director: David Lynch
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Features: See Review
Length: 147 Minutes
Release Date: October 27, 2015
beautiful dark haired woman escapes a horrific car crash outside of Hollywood in
a daze and with amnesia and meets a sunny blonde who arrives in Hollywood with a
Sandra Dee aura and bright ambition. A
movie director is being bullied into a casting choice, and his decision might
affect the rest of his life. A club
bearing the Spanish word for “silence” hypnotizes its audience on both sides
of the screen, before the entire story changes gears so rapidly, we’re no
longer sure what is fantasy and what is reality.
All in a day’s work for David Lynch.
Drive is an
avenue of nightmares weaving through the City of Dreams with surrealistic humor,
eroticism, and fury. Writer/director
David Lynch has spent the best part of his career lurking in our subconscious
minds and toying with the knobs. He
played with our sensibilities in Blue Velvet, ravished our innocence as
filmgoers in Wild at Heart, and shattered our fragile illusions in Lost
Highway. But in taking us on this noir-ish trip down Mulholland
Drive, he does all of this and a lot more.
Ebert called this the picture Lynch has been leading up to for his entire
career…quite a compliment from a critic who found much of the director’s
movies to his displeasure. As for
me, I’ve been a devoted fan of David Lynch for about twenty years, and I
don’t think of Mulholland Drive as the film where he suddenly lived up
to his potential. I think of it as
the film where his audiences started living up to theirs.
a David Lynch movie is akin to being a guest (or a prisoner) in someone else’s
dream. To leave the theatre is like
a strange awakening, where you start to wonder if all the pieces you perceived
actually fit together into something coherent or not. Did it in fact have a more elusive, significant meaning, you
might ask? Maybe, maybe not…after
all, do dreams? What you take away
might depend on what you brought with you in the first place.
have benefited from the huge following another playful noir piece gathered
earlier last year. Memento proved
that audiences were willing to follow a mystery, assemble it in their minds
piece by piece, and enjoy the experience to the tune of repeated viewings and a
great word-of-mouth campaign. To a
smaller extent, Lynch’s film followed the same course.
The resulting movie was even more challenging, but equally as good, as
film fans seemed ready to pick up an even tougher jigsaw puzzle than Memento and
sift through the pieces.
won’t go into too many details here…the less you know going in, the better.
Once you come out, though, you’ll be more than ready to discuss the
picture in minute detail…you’ll be anxious to compare notes with other
viewers and see what solutions you come up with!
film begins with a dance sequence that’s both a little funny and a little
disturbing. The credits run, and we
are introduced to a beautiful woman (Harring) in the back of a Cadillac, being
driven by two men down Mulholland Drive at night. Hollywood, like a glimmering piece of costume jewelry, lights
up the landscape below.
is an accident (did it thwart a murder attempt?) that leaves the woman dazed,
wandering through the Hollywood hills until she ends up cowering in an empty
in Hollywood the next day with big dreams and cheery disposition is Betty
(Watts). She is going to be staying
at her Aunt’s apartment while trying to make it as an actress.
Yes, it just so happens to be the same apartment where our mysterious
brunette has ended up.
christening herself Rita, she befriends the perky Betty, who in turn delves into
the mystery of trying to find out A) who Rita really is, and B) why she’s
carrying such a large wad of cash in her purse!
the same time, other story threads are being woven into the plot.
A hotshot young director, Adam (Theroux) is seeing his world coming
slowly apart as he’s being pressured to hire some unknown ingénue for his
latest film. Two men share a
conversation in a coffee shop, and one nervously tells the other about a strange
recurring dream. There is a
menacing cowboy, a dwarf calling some heavy shots, and a nightclub that
emphasizes illusion over reality…an a cappella Spanish version of Roy
Orbison’s “Crying” will mesmerize you.
toys with humor, mystery, and sexuality…in fact, be prepared for some of the
most titillating scenes you’ve yet seen from him…and constantly juggles them
all between two hands; one reality, one illusion. How much so? Let
me put it this way: nothing you
will have seen in the first two hours will prepare you for the jarring third
act. You will question everything
and everyone you thought you knew. There
is no safety net in a David Lynch movie.
doesn’t even begin to describe the overall results, and a second viewing will
be immediately in order, especially if you’re convinced the movie didn’t
make sense. Watch again.
Look for the trail of breadcrumbs. If
needed, read the liner notes, and David Lynch’s ten clues for unlocking the
mystery in time to watch again. Be
ready to be stunned.
Drive may be
off-putting to the casual filmgoer. It
requires complete surrender from frame one…if you’re not willing to
completely hand yourself over to David Lynch in faith, you might as well not
even push play. If you are, as
Lynch fans generally always are, you might find your trip down this street of
dreams and nightmares one of the most rewarding cinematic journeys you’ll ever
take. At the very least, you’re
likely to find it the best mind blow you’ve had in some time.
is arguably David Lynch’s most beautiful looking film to date, and
Criterion's 4K high definition transfer delivers the goods.
The imagery is a vast expanse of bright, rich colors, dark, dreamy
landscapes, substance and smoke, and reality and illusion.
Notice after the car accident how many layers of space seem to exist,
from the flickering fires to the billowing smoke, to the woman, to the
background, and so on. Each object plays against the other for maximum
effect…lines are sharp without being drastic, visuals range from crisp to
deliberately soft depending on the director’s concepts, while colors range
from natural and bright to ravaging and overly indulgent…again, all
orchestrated to an intended effect. This
is one of the year’s best offerings.
uncompressed soundtrack is equally impressive.
As the film starts with a low, potent note from Angelo Badalamenti’s
score, you’ll know you’re in for a treat.
Listen to that bizarre opening swing number…how clear and crisp the
music sounds! Listen to those
jolting moments of dynamic range that will shake the breakables in your living
room if you’re not careful. Listen to the ominous rumblings from the .1 channel echoing
through most of the movie, adding to the unsettling effect.
Listen to how open the front and rear stages are during the “Crying”
number…it’s a scene with no instruments and no effects, yet it’s one of
the most memorable listening experiences I’ve ever enjoyed with my audio
system. Reference quality all the
There are new interviews with Lynch, plus cast members Naomi Watts, Justin Theroux and Laura Harring, as well as Angelo Badalemnti, production designer Jack Fisk and casting director Johanna Ray. There is also some cool on-set footage, a deleted scene (featuring Robert Forster), and a trailer. I wish we could have seen the original TV pilot as Lynch intended, but...someday...
Mulholland Drive is a masterpiece from a maestro filmmaker. David Lynch has been drawing his fans into worlds of dreams and nightmares, of fantasy and illusion, of beautiful surfaces and dark underbellies for decades, and he is at the top of his game with this film. This reference quality disc is a must-own for the adventurous film lover, especially with this stellar Blu-ray from Criterion.