Film Nerd’s Choice: Mulholland Drive
Director: David Lynch
Cast: Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Ann Miller, Dan Hedaya, Justin Theroux, Billy Ray Cyrus, Melissa George
Synopsis: Following an accident on the titular stretch of road, a woman(Harring) involved in the accident suffers amnesia. Adopting the name Rita, she tries to piece together the events leading to her accident, assisted by Betty (Watts), who recently moved to Hollywood to find her fame in movies.
For today’s entry, I agonised over exactly how to define “obscure” in the context of this quiz. The word implies a meaning of shrouded or hidden, and this can apply to movies in two different, but not mutually exclusive, contexts. The first is that the film itself was shrouded or hidden in the sense that it is little known, little seen, and perhaps a part of some type of subculture. The other context is that the tone or plot of the film is obscure, such that it can take many viewings and re-evaluations to understand the thought processes of the director/screenwriter in question.
I have opted specifically for the latter definition. In in doing so, selecting anything in the milieu of David Lynch directed series and features certainly adequately meets the definition of obscure.. Specifically for me, Mulholland Drive was a film that left me completely and utterly confused after the first viewing. Yet I was entertained nonetheless, resulting in me watching it multiple times and reading interpretations online such that I can get a personal interpretation of it. Even after all these opportunities to find a linear story, the film consistently gives me something new to consider on each viewing.
The synopsis I have provided above is a bare bones plot that only really suffices for, I suppose, the opening 15 minutes of the film. I had heard prior to watching it the capacity of the film to warp the mind, and I doubted the validity of this at first. The first half of the film does tell a pretty linear story, prior to flipping the entire film upside down in what at first seems a different film with the same actors. To say more is to already say too much, but if I get any comments wanting to go in-depth on the film, I will happily discuss it in a more spoiler-ridden post.
The film rests mostly on Watts’ performance, which at first seems to be almost overacting, but in contest of the rest of the film, this is quite fitting. After the twist, she really comes to the fore, with a performance that is heart-wrenching, and to a degree quite disturbing. Harring performs her role adequately, though despite it being her story that initiates proceedings, she never truly pulls attention away from Watts’ more starry-eyed Betty. Even if both performances were poor though, the intrigue of the film would still remain, which still makes it all worth it.
If you want a film tied up in a nice little bow with no loose ends, avoid this film as if it were the plague. If you are a fan of cinema that you really have to think about and even then not come up with an answer, this really fits the bill.