Let’s give ’em something to talk about

Mulholland Drive

Directed by David Lynch

(Justin Theroux, Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Ann Miller)

R

 

Ambiguity in a film is a good thing. Rather than bashing you over the head with obvious meaning and transparent symbolism, a more enigmatic film invites varied interpretation and critical debate.

However, there is a fine line between creative ambiguity and nonsensical lunacy, where the uncertainty arises not from clever obfuscation but from a half-baked and disjointed script. Mulholland Drive, the newest film from David Lynch, hovers beautifully over this line.

The narrative begins in a rather straightforward manner. A car crash leaves a gorgeous mystery woman in an amnesiac state, knowing only that someone wants her dead. She crosses paths with an All-American beauty straight off the turnip truck named Betty, who says things like “everything is A-OK” and (wistfully) “won’t that be the day”, and decides to help the amnesiac bombshell find her identity.

The women, who incidentally, ultimately join in a sexual congress that would shame any Girls Gone Wild video, represent only one of the major plot lines in the film.

There’s also all this stuff about a cuckolded director, a hapless assassin, a crime boss, a corpse, and just for good measure, a sensitive cowboy. Wait, there’s also a senile soothsayer, a mysterious bag full of cash, and a cameo by Billy Ray Cyrus.

While this film does provide an amazing amalgam of loosely related individual scenes, what it doesn’t provide is any sort of closure. Is the film a metaphor for the spurious Hollywood machine, which corrupts the values and morals of the innocent with its cinematic illusions? Is it a commentary on the subjectivity of dreams, and the existence of a collective unconscious? It is all of these things and more.

This uncertainty begs the question: Is it enough to simply throw out disparate, though brilliant plot lines, and leave it to the audience to weave the various strands together into the semblence of a whole? Or is this the filmmaker’s job? One thing is certain: The former makes for much better discussion over beers after the film. Try deconstructing Corky Romano.

-Christopher Yocum

Mulholland Drive opens today at the Uptown Theatre.