- Nov 15, 2001
- Real Name
- Neil Middlemiss
Featuring ideas coming from director David Lynch’s transcendental meditation, planned as a Twin Peaks spinoff, retooled to be a different TV pilot, rejected by ABC and retooled into a feature, Mulholland Dr.’s road to the big screen is as intriguing as the film itself. Featuring strong performances from the entire cast, with Naomi Watt’s range and power being of exquisite perfection, Mulholland Dr. is a near-flawless experience, emotionally rich, mysterious, captivating, dramatically tense, and bizarrely unusual in all the right doses. A rare film –unlike anything else – that stays with you.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Run Time: 2 Hr. 27 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-rayDigiPak
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 10/27/2015
The Production Rating: 4.5/5
“When you see the girl in the picture that was shown to you earlier today, you will say, "this is the girl". The rest of the cast can stay, that's up to you. But the choice for that lead girl is NOT up to you. Now... you will see me one more time, if you do good. You will see me... two more times, if you do bad. Good night.”
Betty Elms (Naomi Watts) arrives in Hollywood fresh-faced and filled with hope and optimism. Staying at her aunts home while she’s in Canada shooting a movie, the wide-eyed hopeful discovers a strange women, the victim of a car accident and suffering amnesia, recovering in her Aunt’s apartment. Betty and the woman, calling herself Rita, try to piece together who the woman is, and descend into a mystery deeper than merely the identity of the beautiful woman. And the mysteries deepen with strange men in robed rooms, a polite cowboy, and a near-ruined, peevish film director under external pressures to pick a certain actress for the lead role, all conspiring to turn to nightmare the city of dreams.
Written and filmed as a pilot for ABC, Lynch secured an additional $8MM and wrote additional scenes, fleshing out relationships and more when ABC chose not to move ahead with the TV pilot. That rejection turned out to be a blessing, freeing Lynch to deepen and darken his vision and result in absorbing cinema –one of Lynch’s finest films. And it is a quintessential David Lynch creation. A fevered, heightened dream of an experience, splashed with obscure ideas, odd and sinister characters, and a delirious thread of obsession running throughout the entire affair. Ostensibly a mystery in its core narrative, Mulholland Dr. is never quite what it seems and becomes a fascinating experience demanding to be watched more than once to savor the intelligence of its construction and to decipher what it all might mean.
Naomi Watts stars as the wide-eyed actress in waiting, arriving in Hollywood with a sea of hopes and dreams laid out before her, and Laura Harring stars as the amnesiac (Rita/Camilla) with whom Betty forms a quick bond and tempestuous relationship. Watt’s is extraordinary in the role. A beautiful women, she shows a brilliant range of emotion and persona – and Lynch is demanding in his pursuit of pushing Watts as an actress, yielding mesmerizing results. Harring’s portrayal of the demure Rita is fascinating in its own right, and she moves from the bruised victim to the powerful alternate as the story evolves with accomplished weightlessness. Watts and Harring are two fine performers around which the film exists - and their breakout performances resonate long after the film as closed.
Additional players include Justin Theroux as the petulant film director, Robert Forster and Brent Briscoe as detectives investigating the crash (that left Rita with amnesia), and Twin Peaks alumna Michael J. Anderson as the powerful man in the robed room.
Watching Mulholland Dr. for the first time is a curious revelation. Seeing the assembly of dream and nightmare, mystery and clues, lavished upon the screen with an innovators eye and the complexities of Lynch’s storytelling is nothing short of intoxicating. Decoding and reassembling the pieces of the puzzle the director laid out during his unconventional narrative is as much of a joy as the film itself. Theories abound to what the truth of this film is, and personally I find the theory of dream, regret and death (triggered in a certain scene) to hold the most promise, but as with great art, whatever it means to the individual is all that ultimately matters (though there is reward in trying to determine what it mean to Lynch himself).
Part of the brilliance of Mulholland Dr. is its ability to be so many things at once. A dark tale of human obsession, a fascinating (perhaps even ordinary) mystery elevated by the full suite of visual and character ingredients, and an indictment of Hollywood’s self-loathing, all while never quite being what it seems. It’s genius really. What is clear is Lynch’s continuing fascination with obsession and the darker impulses of human nature and human fallibility, and his ability to carve out corners within our world and fill them with memorable and often mesmeric characters.
Video Rating: 5/5 3D Rating: NA
Criterion presents Mulholland Dr. in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Supervised by David Lynch and the director of photography Peter Deming. The new digital transfer was created in 4K resolution from the original camera negative and the results are excellent.
Excellent detail, clarity in even the darkest of scenes (the snaking, driving opening sequence is notable for its detail despite its lack of external lighting) and the warmth and vibrancy of colors (especially in the warm tones of Betty’s Aunt’s apartment and on the in-film film set) are especially rewarding. Where there is an apparent softness it is by design and you’ll notice strong detail despite the soft glow of those moments. This is a finely calibrated transfer, perfectly managed to eliminate any dust or damage without trace of unwanted digital management intrusion.
Mulholland Dr. contains no chapter stops at the request of director David Lynch.
Audio Rating: 4.5/5
The 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is wonderful and perhaps the greatest beneficiary of the audio is Angelo Badalamenti’s score (and dark, emotional theme). The soundtrack lends to the dreamlike state in key scenes, and the brooding, deep resonating ominous sounds (including the Cowboy scene) simmer perfectly in the low-end. Dialogue is crisp and there is an overall warmth to much of the audio that suits the film.
Special Features Rating: 4/5
A rewarding collection of special features with very good interviews featuring key players in front of and behind the camera discussing the film, how they came to be a part of the creation, cut with footage from the film. In a recently recorded interview, Lynch, sitting with Naomi Watts, discusses his process for testing talent (for their fit for the film) and shares some of the backstory. In the discussion between Watts and Lynch, Watt’s shares her struggles with a difficult, personal, sexual scene. Honest and fascinating.
Another highlight is the new interview with the charismatic composer, Angelo Badalamenti recounting his arrival in the world of film scoring and his creative union with David Lynch. Badalamenti shares some wonderfully interesting stories.
- David Lynch and Naomi Watts
- Laura Harring, Johanna Ray (Casting director), Justin Theroux and Naomi Watts
- Composer Angelo Badalamenti
- Peter Deming and Jack Fisk
Deleted Scene (2:16)
On-Set Footage – Footage shot on set, beginning with the later diner scene
Booklet featuring an interview with Lynch from filmmaker and writer Chris Rodley’s 2005 edition of the book Lynch on Lynch.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Mulholland Dr. is an exemplary neo-noir, but an even more piercing love story. Lynch invites viewers to cast off traditional narrative expectations and to trust him and his story, to see the pieces of the puzzle that he has laid out - that assembled will clarify the story - but how you pull those pieces together will inform what it means for you. Everyone has the chance to assemble it somewhat differently – and still be right in the meaning found.
Regardless of what your theory is, somehow you are always watching Mulholland Dr. for the first time – and with the excellence of the presentation, Criterion has made that feeling of watching it for the first time ever-more real.
Reviewed By: Neil Middlemiss
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