When the car comes out of the darkness in Lynch's "Mulholland Drive," check out the babe in the backseat -- but don't try to figure her out.
By Clay Lowe, WCBE's "It's Movie Time"
"Mulholland Drive" is a kaleidoscopic thriller that everyone who's hip thinks they have to figure out. I guess that's what you get when you have a generation of movie goers spoiled by English teachers who made them decipher the allegories in Bergman and decode the religious symbols in Bunuel.
At the movie's premiere at the Toronto Film Festival I was sitting next to a woman who was worried because she was afraid she wasn't going to understand the last part of the film -- the buzz was already out about those last twenty minutes. When I told her I was a film critic and wasn't interested in "figuring it out," she responded with a genuinely plaintive, "But we count on you guys."
Forget it. When it comes to David Lynch, it's the experience that counts. It's the imagery. Just go ahead and fantasize about the two beautiful women whose identities keep merging into each other. Get tangled up in the twisted plot lines. Immerse yourself in the hauntingly mysterious feelings evoked by Angelo Badalamenti's music. But whatever you do, don't try to figure it out.
If you insist on searching for meaning, it might help you to know the movie was originally a TV pilot turned into a feature film when ABC failed to pick up the option. Lynch's new distributor had him tack on forty minutes, and "Mulholland Drive" was the result. Necessity is still the mother of invention.
In his day Strindberg freaked out audiences with his "Dream Play;" Dickens blew people's minds with his surreal Scrooge and Miss Haversham; now David Lynch is amazing audiences who watch in disbelief as Naomi Watts and Laura Eleana Harring blend into each other right before our eyes.
Art critic Rudolph Arnheim had it right, film best resembles the world we dream, and no one dreams it better than David Lynch.
Clay Lowe co-hosts WCBE's "It's Movie Time" and programs the film series at the Columbus Museum of Art.