"I still don’t know what movie we’re watching," I whisper to Steph somewhere around the 90 minute mark of Mulholland Drive. So far there’s the the promising young actress from Deep River, Ontario, just touched down in Hollywood with dreams of stardom like so many before her; there’s the mystery story, with a Nancy Drew stand-in trying to solve the Mystery of the Amnesiac Woman in the City of Dreams; and there’s the director on a quest to fulfil his artistic vision, attempting to maintain his creative integrity despite the powers at be holding him back. Scattered in between are hitmen, dreamers and detectives, and the promise that this will all tie together - instilled in us not by the film itself but rather the 100 years of cinema that precedes it. We both know that all of these stories are linked, however abstract, and that the final act will tie them all together. “I bet they make out,” Steph whispers as Betty invites Rita into her bed a few minutes later, and like our prediction for the final act, she’s right - but what follows goes much further than we ever could have expected.
The Blue-Haired Lady whispers “Silencio,” and the film fades to black. Our first instinct is to try to piece all the plot-threads together and make sense of the last 147 minutes. Every possible solution is met with another question. Perhaps Betty is Diane and Rita is Camilla, but then who were the old couple, the men in the diner, the cowboy… Questions beget questions, each more fascinating than the last.
Time passes. The film lingers in my subconscious, where it belongs, and key scenes pass through my mind as I go about my day. Connections are made without logic but rather through feeling. Visual cues present themselves as links between the two distinct sections of the film. The two limousines travelling down the titular road draw parallels, but while Diane’s trip ultimately led to heartbreak, Rita is spared this fate when a car full of drunken teenagers intervene, leaving her free to travel a different path. Perhaps the latter is a form of wish fulfilment for Diane - in my subconscious these parallels don’t need to be backed up by logic, and the film functions in the same way. What Lynch has created is a film that folds in on itself through dream-logic and evocative imagery, creating a Mobius strip of a film, a series of events with no beginning or end. Our instincts were to question the events of Mulholland Drive, but we were never really looking for answers.