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Mulholland Drive: Criterion Collection DVD Review

Mulholland Drive: Criterion Collection

November 17, 2015

Director: David Lynch,
Starring: Naomi Watts, Laura Elena Harring, Justin Theroux, Monty Montgomery, Dan Hedaya, Michael J. Anderson, Melissa George, Mark Pellegrino,

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DVD Review

Mulholland Drive (2001) started as a television pilot that did not get picked up by an American network. Instead of just letting it go and moving on to something else, David Lynch reunited his cast and crew for reshoots, filmed new material, which transformed it into one of his trademark films. It turned out to be one of his greatest critical triumphs. The final result is a disturbing and surreal look at the dark side of Hollywood through Lynch’s unique filter.

Betty Elms (Watts) has just arrived in Los Angeles hoping to make it as an actress in Hollywood. She’s staying at her aunt’s place while she’s away working on a movie. Betty encounters a woman calling herself Rita (Harring), who snuck in and took refuge in Betty’s place after surviving a horrible car accident on Mulholland Drive late one night. She suffers from amnesia and doesn’t remember her identity. All she has to go on is a bag full of money and a blue key. Together, they try and figure out what happened to Rita.

Meanwhile, Adam Kesher (Theroux) is a film director recasting the lead actress in his movie. Two powerful financial backers demand that a certain actress (George) is cast for the part, much to Adam’s chagrin. When he rejects their demands his life is turned upside down. As the film progresses, Lynch intertwines the lives of these characters and shows how they are all a part of the dark underbelly of Hollywood.

Mulholland Drive was Naomi Watts’ breakout film and the one that led to numerous high profile roles as a result. And rightly so as she is excellent as the wide-eyed innocent Betty. There is a fascinating scene where the aspiring actress auditions for a role with an older actor that features some of Watts’ finest work to date. Partway through the film, her character undergoes a dramatic change and the way Watts handles it is remarkable.

As dark as Mulholland Drive gets, it definitely has moments of Lynch’s distinctive absurdist humor, like the scene where an inept hitman (Pellegrino) kills his target only to eliminate two innocent bystanders through a hilarious comedy of errors. The film is also surprisingly moving as evident in the scene where Betty and Rita go to an ominous nightclub called Silencio and are moved to tears by Rebekah del Rio’s stirring a cappella rendition of Roy Orbison’s “Crying.”

If the first two-thirds of Mulholland Drive has an overtly stylized look that seems initially heightened and artificial, Lynch reveals the reason why in a way that changes how we saw what came before. It is a brilliant transition and masterfully reverses the structure of his previous film Lost Highway (1997), which anticipated Mulholland Drive. If Hollywood is a factory of dreams, then Lynch’s film shows its duality – how it can also be a nightmarish place, populated by devious, desperate people, and chews up and spits out those that are unable to succeed in show business.

Special Features:

This new Blu-Ray transfer has been supervised by David Lynch and the film’s director of photography Peter Deming and looks incredible! The colors are rich – crucial for a Lynch film – and there is fantastic detail in the image. It has never looked better.

There is an original trailer for the film.

Also included is a deleted scene that takes place in a police station. It was probably a matter of rights or Lynch’s wishes but the original pilot is not included, which is a shame.

There is a vintage featurette featuring Lynch working with the cast and crew during filming along with talking head interview soundbites.

Also included is a new interview with Lynch and actress Naomi Watts, in which the former discusses the film’s checkered production history and his love for L.A. Watts talks about her career at the time she was cast in Mulholland Drive. We also get fascinating insight into Lynch’s casting process and the impact the film had on her career.

There’s a new retrospective featurette featuring interviews with cast members Laura Harring, Justin Theroux and Watts and casting director Johanna Ray. The actors talk about how they were cast and their impressions of Lynch’s working methods while Ray talks about her professional relationship with Lynch and how she casts his films.

Composer Angelo Badalamenti is interviewed and talks at length about his various collaborations with Lynch. Naturally, he discusses Mulholland Drive and Lynch’s ideas for the score and the sound design.

Finally, Deming and production designer Jack Fisk talk about their contributions to Mulholland Drive with the former going in-depth about how various scenes were shot while the latter talks about his long-time friendship with Lynch and how he picked locations in L.A.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance

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Rating: 99%

Website: https://www.criterion.com/films/28050-mulholland-dr

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