Starring: Naomi Watts, Laura Harring and Justin Theroux.
Story: An aspiring Hollywood actress (Watts) attempts to help a beautiful amnesiac (Harring) remember who she is and why she's carrying a bag full of cash. Meanwhile, a director (Theroux) has a run-in with the mob and a hitman bungles the theft of a book of phone numbers. Or maybe they don't. Maybe that's already happened or is going to happen or maybe it's all a dream. But whose dream? And what's that odd blue key about and why is the bogey man camping out behind a diner? And who were those people before they became other people? And... Argh, here comes the attack of the scary pensioners! Run away!
(Or is it The Middle in the wrong place? Who knows?)
Comments: Having small children has affected my life in various ways. One is that I haven't been to the cinema much in eight years, another is that they've Swiss-cheesed my brain. This combination of issues means I've got plenty of films to catch up on but that I sometimes get confused over which one is which. I thought this was going to be a hard-nosed thriller featuring Tim Robbins. Turns out I got the wrong address. That's Arlington Road. (Good thing I'm writing reviews not driving a taxi.) I wasn't entirely prepared for a David Lynch movie.
Yep, it's time to break out the dancing dwarves...
As soon as I realised my mistake, I began to expect levels of weirdness equivalent to a bad episode of Twin Peaks. Thankfully, Mulholland Drive quickly develops into a dark but interesting mystery with a bit of oddness thrown in (like a good episode of Twin Peaks, hurrah!). It all seems to build towards a final forty-five minutes of fast-paced revelations and shocking conclusions.
Then, suddenly, there's some gratuitous lesbian sex that's raunchy enough to seriously raise the eyebrows of any spouse, grandparent, small child or pet who unexpectedly walks into the room at the wrong moment. After that, it's all mind-bending strangeness. If you've ever been up late at night watching repeats of Top Gear with a grouchy baby and drifted into a bizarre waking dream involving walking teeth and Jeremy Clarkson in drag, you'll know the kind of thing I'm talking about.
Much is explained by the fact that the project was originally filmed as a pilot episode for a TV show. When the show was turned down, Lynch shot some more footage and made it into a self-contained feature. Rather than try to tie up all the loose ends, it would appear he threw in a whole lot more, added a surreal twist and left the movie as a brain-warping conundrum. Whether the puzzle has a solution, however, is open to debate.
I had to go look up Wikipedia in order to find out what was going on. Apparently no one's totally sure. The New York Times wrote that while some might consider the plot an 'offense against narrative order ... the film is an intoxicating liberation from sense, with moments of feeling all the more powerful for seeming to emerge from the murky night world of the unconscious.'
Er, yeah, whatever. Personally, I think there's a con being pulled here and the film is nonsense dressed up as genius. Never mind that the results are entertaining, it has to be said that the Emperor has no clothes.
Conclusion: An intriguing thriller that slowly turns into a bizarre attempt to mess with your head. Watchable but ultimately unsatisfying.
Mysterious cowboys: One.
Subplots with no resolution whatsoever: At least five.
Number of surrealists it takes to change a light bulb: Fish.
Who killed Laura Palmer?: That would be telling.