Tuesday, August 20, 2002


Cool website, extraordinary movie.

Maybe it's just Lynch-by-numbers - you get bits of Blue Velvet, Lost Highway and Twin Peaks - but hey, they're great numbers. You can't beat Lynch's astonishing set-pieces, even if his anti-narratives lose you.

Mulholland Dr., which started out as a TV series that was too odd for its network, comes off a bit like Peaks turned into Lost Highway. Like that movie, this one turns on a knife edge halfway through, but it's the inverse: where Lost Highway (by my reading) starts out as a slightly trippy narrative, then becomes a dream reverie when the impossible plot point occurs, this film is readable as dream narrative until the turning point. Everyone you thought the characters were becomes turned on its head, and you can see them as the dream-logic reinterpretations of actual characters whose story you discover at the end.

Rather like Three Colours Red, which does it in the very last scene, the ending makes you recast everything you've seen in arrears and view it in a new light. In Three Colours it gave a backbone to the whole reason for telling the three stories; in Mulholland Dr. you see why, for example, Naomi Watts' character seemed too goody-goody to be true, and why so many jarring and freaky things have been allowed to happen.

Though the 'real' story comes out at the end, it too seems to be told in a reverie, and may also be a skewed telling of 'the story'. For me it made sense that way, though, and helped resolve that feeling of narrative giddyness where you really don't know what the hell is going on.

When I first saw Lost Highway, my reading of it was that it was deliberately unreadable: that Lynch had purposely broken every coherence in order to leave the viewer with that 'giddy' feeling. After the third viewing I came to the opinion that the second half should be discounted as a fantasy retelling of the story so far; and that gives it a certain kind of sense. I might be wrong. There are still holes, I'm sure. But the holes are a bit smaller and more managable.

Watching Mulholland Dr. with this reading in mind, I was looking out for clues that a similar structure might be at work. I'd heard it compared to Lost Highway and was reading everything as provisional, potentially to be revealed as unreal, and was waiting for the hinge to come up. When it did, it all fell into place. Well, more or less.

But having brought that expectation to it, is that what's going on there? Was this dream/reality structure even in Lost Highway in the first place?

Don't you just love Lynch?

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