Mulholland Dr. (1999)

87% – Critics
false% – Audience

Mulholland Dr. Storyline

Yearning to spread her wings and make a name for herself in the cut-throat world of Hollywood’s film industry, instead, the bright-eyed actress, Betty, has a chance encounter with the amnesiac and alluringly mysterious brunette, Rita. Having survived a terrible car accident, Rita struggles to piece together the fragmented memories of what happened just before the incident, to find out who she is; however, this is easier said than done. Now, Betty and Rita embark on a mission to unearth clues scattered all over Hollywood. Is there a shocking truth hiding in plain sight on the winding Mulholland Drive?—Nick Riganas

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Mulholland Dr. Movie Reviews

A movie that really leaves ultimately everything up to you

I can’t get over this movie. WOW.

How do I put what I feel into words? OK, let me give it a shot. Have you seen or felt something that leaves you wondering or sweeps your feet away? This movie does exactly that. The twists and turns that happen along the way just blows you away.

I think you’d need to watch this movie a couple of times so you can at least “TRY” and comprehend what Lynch is trying to say.

If this isn’t the best movie I’ve watched, I don’t know what is!

20/10 rating if that was possible.

Not the movie, but still very well-made

So the backstory of this TV Movie/Pilot is well-told, Lynch made this as a pilot for ABC. ABC didn’t want it, so Lynch moved on. But, it still lingered in his mind a year afterward and decided to rework it into a feature film.

And while this pilot is missing some of the best elements of the Film, it is still a well-acted, well-directed, well-shot, and thrilling TV Movie that has scenes that pretty much all ended up in the final feature film in 2001.

And even with the poor quality of the copy I watched, it is still incredibly entertaining and there is a perfect atmosphere that lingers throughout the 89-minute runtime. I don’t think this would have worked well as a TV Show, and it turning out to eventually be made into a feature is something that was the best thing that could have happened to this story, David Lynch, Naomi Watts, and Justin Theroux.

The full pilot is on YouTube if you want to check it out, for a pilot it is quite amazing and I believe you won’t regret watching it.

So glad that this became a feature

In 1999 David Lynch was tasked with this TV series pilot that was ultimately rejected by ABC. Once Lynch said in an interview that he is “a sucker for a continuing story”. I think the remark is pretty down right. Look for instance at “Twin Peaks” and Lost Highway, both of which I am a big fan of. Also consider Inland Empire as well as all the post-2001 shorts, of which I am not a fan at all.

Be as it may, in this one case the miracle happened. Lynch took the rejected pilot from the drawer and made it in a great full feature film, released in 2001, after re-shooting a few scenes and adding several others. Mulholland Dr. the feature, an apparently elusive but ultimately full sense-making story, is the best of Lynch’s so far, in my opinion, and one of the best movies of the last twenty years.

Now looking back at the pilot, I could not be more grateful that things went the way they did. The episode as such is great looking and builds up a lot of atmosphere. It is definitely of a far superior quality than the average TV show, probably even better than the “Twin Peaks” pilot. But precisely because of this, Mulholland Dr. the pilot deserved more than being just the first episode of a series (and of course more than being left in a drawer).

When you consider it, the pilot has so many merits it is hard to believe it was made for TV. The score by Angelo Badalamenti, the cinematography by Peter Deming, the production design and the technical values in general are all top notch. And what’s more, the acting is superb. Harring and Watts are mesmerizing and it is no surprise that they (especially Watts) went on to star careers after the full feature was released. Watts delivers according to her standards, i.e those of one of the best actresses of her generation. While the same cannot be said of Harring, she is nonetheless good and brings forth a lot of noir atmosphere, sheer sexiness and emotion. And the supporting cast also do an exceptional work, making all of the characters memorable. Just think of then relatively unknown Theroux playing the utterly unlikable film director or of veterans Hedaya and Forster. And of course, the characters are good because the dialog is so good.

Overall, this is clearly not required viewing if you are not a hardcore fan of David Lynch, in which case go to the 2001 movie instead. However, if you already saw and liked the movie, the pilot becomes interesting as it shows how Lynch, for once, beautifully closed the loop. Something that I have missed him doing in the last ten years.