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Critics reviews
Mulholland Drive
David Lynch United States, 2001
Part mind-bending mystery, part hair-raising thriller, part tear-jerking break-up soapfest, David Lynch’s MULHOLLAND DRIVE evokes an aura of nocturnal wonder and dread, a realm caught between the parameters of waking life and dreams, achingly poignant in its emotional core, absolutely hypnotizing in it’s formal ambiance, and sometimes-frustratingly labyrinthine in its thorny construction.
September 29, 2017
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The arc of Mulholland Dr. tells what it’s like to love someone, then miss her once she’s gone. It manifests itself in the onscreen actions of the film’s lead actresses, Naomi Watts and Laura Elena Harring. This blue-eyed blonde and brown-eyed brunette share their mutual arousal, their tears, and their terror. They’re the heart of a melodrama that doesn’t demand to be solved so much as felt.
June 23, 2017
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In keeping reality at arm’s length, cinema sustains us because of, rather than in spite of, its essentially deceptive nature. As long as the lights stay down and the song keeps playing, we at once rehearse and delay our reckoning with the things that exist beyond the frame. Mulholland Drive is great film art because it fully inhabits its chosen medium while reminding us how ephemeral it is in the end. Cinema – and life – is but a dream. The rest is Silencio.
March 26, 2017
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Her turn as Betty until that point so perfectly calibrated to the all-surface role of the would-be starlet, Watts’ performance of that scene, in that scene, seems to freight her character with a significance that reappears with equal intensity only in the late stages of the film, after she has transformed into “Diane Selwyn,” the paranoiac whose guilt is ostensibly responsible for dreaming up Mulholland Dr.’s whole first section.
December 24, 2015
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…If the film resonates long after these questions have been answered, it is because they are somewhat beside the point. Much more than an enigma to be cracked, Mulholland Dr. takes as its subject the very act of solving: the pleasurable and perilous, essential and absurd process of making narrative sense, of needing and creating meaning.
November 03, 2015
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It wasn’t conceived as a movie, and often doesn’t look like one, with tight shots and occasionally flat lighting that betray its origins as a late ‘90s network TV pilot, and clear aesthetic breaks with the scenes added after arthouse super-producer Alain Sarde financed additional filming. Yet Mulholland Dr. now stands as one of the best and most popular examples of the big screen’s unique flair for experiences that are simultaneously tantalizing and unresolvable.
October 28, 2015
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As magnificent as those predecessors [Persona and 3 Women] are, only in Lynch’s incomparable movie, following a logic that is at once elusively oneiric and emotionally intelligible, is a whole shadow history of Hollywood—that of actresses who loved other actresses, of the shame and humiliation so many of them endured both professionally and personally—tenderly and tragically excavated.
October 27, 2015
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Like Betty, Lynch is in love with his fantasies, but he recognizes many of them, particularly as shaped by corporate Hollywood, to be built on nightmares, complicating the pleasure they bring. With this epic tapestry, one of the richest, finest, and most bottomless of all films, Lynch channeled the elusive and contradictory textures of desire, moving beyond either/or dichotomies of good and evil or black and white. Or brunette and blonde.
October 26, 2015
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The film’s story starts off as one thing, and is then totally corrupted and becomes something else — or rather, it becomes many different things. Narrative logic departs and the subconscious, the fantastical, the horrific starts to take over. In many ways, that’s what makes Mulholland Drive so tantalizing to look at in terms of genre: At times it seems to be about the very boundary between horror and thriller.
October 23, 2014
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Mulholland Drive is deeply informed by, and in some sense about, the process by which one ingratiates oneself in the film industry. There are the similarities, both superficial and deep-seated, to Sunset Boulevard (the respective films’ titles, the murder mysteries, and so on and so forth).
October 08, 2014
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Widely anointed one of the most significant films of the aughts, MULHOLLAND DR. gleefully resists intellectual interpretation at every turn; an emotional tour de force that borrows from the body genres as liberally as from noir.
February 17, 2012
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In many ways, David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive is a cinematic achievement for the ages. It is a magical film, with sets sure to take the breath away of any film lover. The soundtrack from Lynch regular Angelo Badalamenti is nothing short of brilliant, and the cinematography of Peter Deming is on the same artistic level. There is an immense feeling of captivation while watching this film, and that is the cornerstone of the experience.
February 10, 2010
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With his brilliant, labyrinthine Mulholland Dr., [Lynch] digs underneath our peculiar Hollywood system — a system that pedals dreams, desire, sex, money, magic — dreams that have the ability to spread like a celluloid sickness all over America. Through the bright-eyes of innocent Betty (Naomi Watts, in a career defining performance), a starlet seeking fame in La La land, he presents a twisted, romantic, funny, terrifying and deeply emotional mystery.
January 08, 2010
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That this artist’s free-floating, recurrent idiosyncrasies (think Miró with forward momentum) come together in such a delicate narrative form is the ultimate evidence of Lynch’s unique gift. And never, despite Mulholland’s initial reception as TV leftovers and its reputation as purposefully, even antagonistically, befuddling, has Lynch made a film with as much exquisite, complex coherence.
January 01, 2010
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Lynch is exploring ideas and creative impulses more than following a tightly knitted narrative. It is the journey that matters most, not a tell-all revelation or epiphany that makes everything we have seen become crystal clear. When it seems possible to assign a reasonable logic to what is going on, Lynch pulls the carpet from underneath you and spins new images and ideas – too many to make complete sense of.
July 31, 2006
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While he may never again match The Elephant Man and Velvet, its unfair to use those classics as sticks with which to hit him whenever he falls short. We should instead remember that, even treading water, Lynch makes movies most directors can only dream of.
March 23, 2004
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Although ultimately agonising, this constant reversal produces the often pleasurable ruminations enabling Diane to escape her melancholy through the satisfying daydream of the film itself. It is the dissolution of the boundary between fantasy and reality, and Diane’s ultimate failure to separate the two realms that leads finally to her self-destruction.
March 13, 2002
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Every sexual betrayal is mirrored by a career setback to the extent that one could almost read the personal drama as a metaphorical commentary on Diane’s stalled career or vice-versa. This is Hollywood and in the context of a David Lynch film the expression ‘dream factory’ is bound to be more loaded than usual. Mulholland Drive is a film about the death of dreams.
March 13, 2002
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Not just everything you want in a David Lynch movie, but damn near everything else you want in any movie… You could be forgiven for thinking that Lynch is merely hauling out his hoary preoccupations, chrome-plating the old fetishes after the cast-iron hokum of his last feature, The Straight Story — and he is, but this time it works, at times brilliantly.
February 02, 2002
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Despite too many detours into nonsensical narrative cul-de-sacs, and too many shots that slowly travel towards corners down darkened corridors to the accompaniment of ominous rumbles, this works well enough as unsettlingly nightmarish suspense. That is, until it suddenly and stupidly decides to switch characters’ identities, leaving one with a so-what feeling of déjà vu.
January 03, 2002
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It certainly contains as much material as any television series could manage, never quoting, evoking or imitating without subsuming the raw material into its own unique world. Films as emotionally overwhelming as Mulholland Dr. often seem shallower with further acquaintance, but this shows signs of being a lasting work, a film that shifts and changes along with the viewer, upon which all commentary is necessarily provisional.
January 01, 2002
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One of the very few movies in which the pieces not only add up to much more than the whole, but also supersede it with a series of (for the most part) fascinating fragments.
November 08, 2001
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Writer-director Lynch ("Twin Peaks, “Blue Velvet”) spun this ultimately unsatisfying film out of an unsold television pilot. It has his trademark elements: sinister nightclub, enigmatic power figures, creepy eroticism and a faint, throbbing score by Angelo Badalamenti. But Lynch seems as clueless as his characters when it comes to making sense of this anything-goes storyline.
November 01, 2001
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For its first ninety minutes the film motors along this noirish route—Raymond Chandler shops at Frederick’s of Hollywood—then goes defiantly, wondrously weird. This handsome, persuasively inhabited spook show reveals Lynch’s talent for fooling, unsettling and finally enthralling his audience. Viewers will feel as though they’ve just finished a great meal but aren’t sure what they’ve been served. Behind them, the chef smiles wickedly.
October 29, 2001
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More than anything else, Mulholland Drive is an incredible cinematic experience. You laugh, you wince, you fall in love, you hold your breath, you cringe, you mutter “Oh my God.” The movie is a nonstop catalog of classic Lynchian moments, from extreme discomfort to nostalgic reverie to utter desolation to sheer terror.
October 12, 2001
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It’s wily and sophisticated, stylized like an art deco nude, and suffused with so much feline glamour and beauty and naked eroticism that its chief aim seems not to be to dazzle us with its typically Lynchian plot twists, but to seduce us into its sway and keep us there… “Mulholland Drive” is beautifully and intricately structured: Those who delight in disassembling Lynch’s puzzles will have a great time flipping the plot around, tracing its breadcrumb clues back from the end to the beginning.
October 12, 2001
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While it’s tempting to think that Lynch has simply lost control of his vision yet again, the film is so densely layered and seductive that it’s hard to pull away completely, even when it stops making rational sense. Recognizing the futility of bringing material for an untold number of television episodes to a neat and satisfying conclusion, Lynch has done the next best thing, pushing the audience deeper and deeper into his subconscious tangles.
October 12, 2001
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The movie boldly teeters on the brink of self-parody, reveling in its own excess and resisting narrative logic. This voluptuous phantasmagoria is certainly Lynch’s strongest movie since Blue Velvet and maybe Eraserhead. The very things that failed him in the bad-boy rockabilly debacle of Lost Highway—the atmosphere of free-floating menace, pointless transmigration of souls, provocatively dropped plot stitches, gimcrack alternate universes—are here brilliantly rehabilitated.
October 03, 2001
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While Lynch’s films all have dream-like qualities, Mulholland Drive is his first since Eraserhead to employ “the logic of a dream – a nightmare” (how Welles described Kafka’s The Trial) from beginning to end. And like a nightmare, the film’s effect is twofold. It creates an extreme sense of unease, which provokes, in turn, an investigative impulse – as if by using one’s analytic skills to piece together its puzzling narrative, one could exert control over the anxiety the film generates.
September 01, 2001
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Mulholland Drive is a film so compelling, engrossing, well directed, sexy, moving, beautiful to look at, mysterious, and satisfying that it threatens to unnerve the aesthetic premises of those who, like myself, are not intrinsically Lynch fans. For die-hard Lynchians, it will be catnip; but what about the rest of us, the skeptics? How will we explain this sudden embrace of a mannerist who in the past had seemed adolescent, self-indulgent, and even vulgar, if not meretricious?
September 01, 2001
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The plot slides along agreeably as a tantalizing mystery before becoming almost completely inexplicable, though no less thrilling, in the closing stretches — but that’s what Lynch is famous for.
July 01, 2001
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Mulholland Drive may be a remix of Lynch’s other films (familiar signifiers pop up aplenty), but it’s a remix that manages something unique. Lynch taps into a well of concealed despair and disillusionment, castigating Hollywood — and those in American society who have subsumed its values, or who think their lives can be lived according to its movies.
May 18, 2001
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