From Lost Highway to Straight Story to his latest, Mulholland Drive, director David Lynch has shown an increasing fascination with narrative pathways and their real-life embodiments, be it rural blacktop or the fast-paced expressway outside L.A. This latter location is where Mulholland Drive opens, in a strange encounter (the first of many) terminated by a car wreck that renders a woman (Laura Harring) amnesiac. Stunned, she wanders into an apartment and meets a perky, newly arrived aspiring actress name Betty (Naomi Watts). The victim introduces herself as Rita, taking a cue from a movie poster from Gilda, which starred Rita Hayworth. Together they undertake a warped noir adventure in search of Rita's mysterious past. Narrative realism isn't heeded in the slightest as the gifted director builds his heady vision of Los Angeles and a debauched film industry that runs on soiled dreams. Lynch excels at baffling and disturbing his viewers—at the exact same time as he builds a suspenseful, attractive story, and Mulholland Drive does precisely this.
This is an amazing film in which it's best not to know beforehand what happens, but even if you do know, the twists will do their work. Mulholland Drive would be lovely (in that Lynchean way) on its own, but following on the heels of the deeply moving, affirmative, and G-rated Straight Story, it is particularly impressive.