There’s nothing more controlled or well thought out than the conspiracy to assassinate a public figure. A public figure disappears and a ‘Hollywood’s Mysteries and Scandals’ pops up on A&E. Who killed Marilyn? Was Jayne Mansfield the victim of a satanic curse? What the hell was Anne Heche doing wandering barefoot into someone’s home? We’ll never know because THEY have carefully plotted, obscured hints and led all sleuths down blind alleys, or in the case of David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, behind the dumpster at Winkie’s Diner. This is where a nasty looking troll holds a small blue box, a box that may be a portal between time, the afterlife and your most terrifying nightmares.
But alas even the most well orchestrated conspiracies are prone to real life chance. So as the story opens, what seems like a clean killing on the dark hills of Mulholland Drive is thrown sharply off course by a pair of speeding cars in a head-on collision. The would-be victim (Laura Elena Harring) survives and wanders ‘Carnival Of Souls’-like into the dream theater that is Hollywood USA. What happens afterward could possibly the near-death hallucination of a ‘top actress’ revisiting her life’s journey and the people and events that facilitated he rise and eventual fall.
Enter Betty (Naomi Watts), as fresh as the day is sunny, arriving at LAX with a pink cardigan and a suitcase full of dreams to be an actress. So pure, so nice she seems to have spent her entire flight from Ontario chatting with LA’s friendliest elderly couple. Or are they? Lynch’s patented sound palate of heightened atmosphere suggests otherwise.
You’ve had those nightmares before. Seemingly random unrelated persons and events come together for the sole purpose of scaring the hell out of you and forcing you to second guess all that you hold as safe and normal. Even the Hollywood facade has been studied over and over until the corrupt studio execs, the social climbing wannabes are just the norm. Enter Lynch, Badalamenti and co to fold these ideas eight ways shred them and put them into a magic blue box in order to recharge the force of the nightmare.
Before Betty arrives at her aunt’s apartment, the accident victim seems to have snuck in to hide. If you ask yourself how she chose this apartment out of the millions of tiny lights she descended into from her walk from the accident you come up with that word again: fate.
The initial contrasts of the two women slowly blur along with the plot. With her memory wiped out, Rita as she now calls herself, begins the search for her identity.
She was to be the lead in the Connie Stevens Story. Now the film is hanging in development hell and depends upon the director not being ‘a smartass’. The vast nothingness of the night sky thunderous silence, the very night air is deafening. What does paranoia sound like? Thousands of crickets chirping in the distance. It sound like the wind howling.
Will Betty get the part? It seems irrelevant when the director is forced by some mafia types to cast an actress of their choosing. At some point you realize that it no longer matters if The director (Justin Theroux) tried to rebel but the mafia brings on the heaviest of hitters to convince him. Who might that be? You guessed it, a cowboy.
More clues emerge. A name, a barrel full of Red Herring. The plot doesn’t necessarily twist as much as it transmogrifies and flip flops and deliberately confuses like a Zen riddle.
So now events are completely out of out characters hands. They are helpless in the decisions of others. The only thing left to do at this point would be to morph into one another’s identities and distort the sequence of time with the help of the magic cube. But what is the cube, really? Ask Gene Ray.
Since we’re talking David Lynch, you know there is no easy resolution. None of the mysteries are explained yet he does manage to pull thing full circle. The goons and bogymen laugh and drink together at a beautiful hilltop mansion. It was all pre-planned. It was all prerecorded. Sure it’s fake but the fake version is more life shattering the genuine. It’s all in the blue box. And the key to the blue box
In this Hollywood, Philip Marlowe is dosed with high grade mescaline, Nancy Drew is slipped roofies and sent bungee jumping into her own nightmare basin.