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The 365 Best Films of the 2000s

Heroes of the Zeroes: Mulholland Dr.

Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.


“Mulholland Dr.”
Rated R
2001

Madness lies in pursuing definitive points to David Lynch’s “Mulholland Dr.” His greatest films lead viewers down dark paths to familiar, sometimes frightening destinations of self-interpretation — each screening yielding new opinions of what’s onscreen, right and wrong excluded from analysis.

“Mulholland” was essentially a dream, and dream interpretations aren’t unassailable. Worth regular revisits, the amorphous stories in Lynch’s 2001 masterpiece oozed together until it was nigh impossible to discern waking life from slumbering subconscious or even the who, when and why in point of view.

Billy Ray Cyrus as an amorous poolman punched by a mobster? Lynch’s commentary on independent filmmaking? Lesbian erotica as sad as it is exaggeratedly hot? “Mulholland’s” puzzle box snapped together each piece in the sparsest sense.

Betty (Naomi Watts) is a newbie actress in Los Angeles with an audition so sweltering you might faint. Rita (Laura Elena Harring) escapes a car wreck on Mulholland Drive with amnesia. Director Adam Kesher (Justin Theroux) is beleaguered by a cowboy and a shadowy cabal controlling his latest film.

“Mulholland” works on a feedback loop of recurring themes, and that’s as instructive as it gets. An eerie early-morning nightclub scene is “Mulholland’s” best and seems the most telling. Delusion and illusion dovetail — characters falling for something they know to be false, much like unrequited love.

There, Lynch’s command of this aqueous, unforgettable experience snookers us into believing what he’s just told us is not happening. Watch this bold shredding of cinematic expectation and form with a racing, sleep-deprived mind.


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2 Responses to “Heroes of the Zeroes: Mulholland Dr.”

  1. As someone who’s long been fascinated by the nature of dreams, I love love love this film. The script, acting, cinematography and editing represent an auteur at his most impeccable. The combination of neo-noir and existential dread makes Mulholland Dr. the kind of film that haunts and frightens you–but you can’t stop from going back, again and again.

    Chicagoans, take note: there’s a very real possibility that next year I’ll be doing a screening and discussion of this very film!

    Thanks, Nick.