Director: David Lynch
Writer: David Lynch
Starring: Justin Theroux, Naomi Watts, Laura Elena Harring, Ann Miller, Robert Forster, Mark Pellegrino
Film Rating: ★★★★★
Blu Ray Rating: ★★★½ (knocked down for the unjustified £39.99 price tag)
It’s been just over twenty years since David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr. was first released. It was met with almost universal praise and a lot of confusion, since it is a film that blurs the line between dreams and reality and doesn’t explain itself. It’s still one of Lynch’s most celebrated films and has just recently received a 4K restoration from Criterion and Studio Canal that was overseen by Lynch. In the UK the set has been released by Studio Canal, in a gorgeous big box that opens up and lets you discover postcards, posters, a booklet with two interesting essays and the film itself.
After winning a dance competition, Betty (Naomi Watts) travels to Los Angeles to follow her dream of being an actor. When Betty arrives at her aunt’s house, she finds a stranger (Laura Elena Harring) inside. The night before, this strange woman was involved in a car crash, and is the sole survivor and suffering with amnesia. Betty and the stranger, who goes by Rita, try to track down Rita’s past and discover who she really is.
Like all of Lynch’s films and TV series, there is something about Mulholland Dr. that doesn’t quite feel real. There’s a sense that everything is a dream right from the opening sequence, that shows the dance competition through silhouettes and loud music. It settles you in to be completely absorbed by the world in the film. At its heart it’s a mystery about an amnesiac, while it’s also a scathing critique of the Hollywood system. There are moments of the strange and bizarre, abstract scenes that don’t seem to make sense, as well as the pulsating score from Angelo Badalamenti that perfectly punctuates Lynch’s story.
This is something that you need to just sit back and watch, there’s a dreamlike logic to it, that when you settle into it kind of makes sense. For two decades this film has confused audiences while also being completely absorbing. Included in the booklet is ten clues to help you understand the mystery. The clues were first published shortly after the film was originally released and have been scrutinised since then to try and find a definite solution to the film. Lynch has never explained it, like with all of his films, it’s there to be interpretated by the audience and everyone picks up on different things and makes their own mind up.
Interestingly, for this director approved set, there is a featurette that explains the film. It puts forward a view and then uses the clues to back that up, before going over the film’s plot to explain it further. It’s an interesting look at Mulholland Dr., that’s open ended enough to help you develop your own opinion. The booklet presents other ideas as well, and it gives you a lot to think about.
The extras overall do feel a little lacking when compared to the recent Eraserhead and Dune re-releases. For such a seminal piece of Lynch’s filmography the featurettes feel a little bare. There’s the previously mentioned explanation featurette, plus a behind the scenes look at the making of, some interviews and another featurette that looks at the central mystery. It’s not completely exhaustive and takes around two hours to watch them all and read though the booklet. The box is also very big, for what’s inside. It looks really nice, and takes a dominant position on your shelf, but is a little disappointing to open. Over half of it is empty space.
Mulholland Dr. is a fantastic film. It’s easily one of Lynch’s best and the new release’s restoration is perfect. It looks like this could have been released today, and the sound is great. Badalamenti’s excellent score couldn’t sound better. The price tag makes this a little less desirable. It’s a lot more expensive than the other recent re-releases of Lynch’s work, but somehow contains less, even though the box is bigger. It’s more for purists. Mulholland Dr. is still something that needs to be seen. It’s one of those films that goes by so fast in a haze and you want to start it right back up again once the credits start to roll.
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