While watching this movie, I kept feeling "something big is going to happen", and the suspense was almost too much to bear at times. I was on edge for most of the movie. There is a gigantic pivot point in the film at about the 90-100 minute mark, and after that point, you start to think, "what the..". After the movie was over, I spent maybe an hour trying to piece it together or come up with a theory to explain it. I am not alone. The movie is so good that you can read different theories, all dream, dream & reality, all real, metaphysical BS, and believe them. I got so deep into piecing it together that at 2am I was still awake and on fire, literally throwing off heat, just thinking about it. This was all after watching the crappy TV edit version. On the very next day, my wife and I watched the movie on dvd, and some things that happened at the end made a bit more sense because certain scenes have to be deleted or modified for TV. Let's just say I had no clue about the depth of Naomi Watts and Laura Harring's relationship because of the TV edit. After this viewing, my wife's theory was of alternate universes with the blue box being the portal, while mine was of drug induced dream of what should have been to reality of what really happens in life.
I just spent a paragraph typing about how the movie makes people think but here's why it grabs people: the movie is extremely well made, the mood is tough to top for suspense, and the level of detail is amazing. The dialogue is very important as is the pacing. Viewing the film two times, there were bits of dialogue that made more sense that second time around. Things come together clearer if you listen to the names, places, and movies discussed. I have mentioned the mood before, but it is just a wonderful display of the underside of glitzy L.A. Sure, this is the movie industry, but there's a lot of weird characters and dark places. I also get the feeling that the forced casting decision was Lynch's way of saying F-U to some producer in the past. There is also a lost in time element to the story, sets, and casting. The girl off the bus from the small town trying to make it big after winning a jitterbug contest is hokey. Most of the movie sets shown are set int he 40s or 50s. Even laura Harring's charcter has a 50s look to her witht he lipstick, pearl jewelry, and her look, which is "look like a hot REAL woman". I have to give Lynch and the art director credit; the level of detail in each frame is excellent. The people who cross the screen, the clothes even the extras wear, and the simple little things like make up, hair, body posture, etc. all mold this movie into a work of art.
After the second viewing, I noticed there was no swearing in the first 90 minutes or so. None. Obvious swearing spots were replaced with "smart aleck" or "butt". Some research showed that Mulholland Drive had first been shot as a pilot for ABC. ABC decided against picking it up. HOLY SHIT!!!!! That really did deserve an all caps holy shit. ABC turned down this beautiful 90 minute pilot that had tons of room for development. Knowing that, you can piece together different storyline possibilities. I find myself being a bit greedy and sad wishing that I could go back in time to 2001 and 1. Prevent 9/11, then 2. Convince HBO to pick up Mulholland Drive as a series after ABC passed on it. Oh my gosh, as a series this could have been mysterious and unusual like "Lost". Network television would have prevented some different storylines from being truly fleshed out, and cable would have allowed for drug, sex, shady violence, etc to play out without fear of censors. HBO could have signed this on for one season of 8 episodes as a test run and aired it right after the Sopranos. This would have been perfect. It would have captured a good audience, and we would be treated to more work from the odd Mr. Lynch.
Go rent Mulholland Drive. I'll be buying this movie for my collection. This movie made me question its reality more than Videodrome.