The Attraction of Confusion: Inception and Mulholland Drive

25 Aug

“What the F was that.”

This was the response I had after seeing Mulholland Drive, David Lynch’s classic-indie mind-screw that critics think is amazing and the average person thinks makes no sense. Being somewhere in the middle I enjoyed it, but couldn’t figure out why.

I left the film with a kind of numb enjoyment that followed my attempt to rationally organize something that really probably wasn’t meant to be complete understood, in any traditional way.  Because at it’s core Mulholland Drive is deeply invested in the same topic that has caused so much controversy this summer, and no it’s not Brett Farve or Lebron “look at me” James despite what ESPN would have you believe, I’m talking about dreams.

It all comes back to Inception. Some people loved it. Some people didn’t really get it. And some people didn’t really get why people loved it. But everybody saw it. And everybody is talking about it. So somewhere Christopher Nolan is pulling a comically large lever on a cash resister and making “ca-ching” noises.

On the surface Mulholland Drive, a psychological thriller about unrequited love and the power of delusion, is nothing like the mind heist that is Inception.  But both are deeply involved in the issue of dreams and how this subconscious playground of ideas interacts with the real world, and more significantly, how the two worlds could become confused.

Unlike Inception though, which openly discusses how to play around in dreams, Mulholland Drive is about how Diane Selwyn’s (Naomi Watts) dreams end up killing her. Not that the film makes cohesive sense, but basically it is about Selwyn unraveling her dreams until the unhappy facts of her life are revealed. It’s much more complicated than that, but the film definitely intermingles the subconscious desires that fuel our dreams and how those desires effects our conscious reality. At least that’s my own take on the film. I mean there is a metric ton of internet memory storing people’s thoughts on Mulholland Drive.

And it’s a damn good thing too because you almost need to read someone else recap the film to have any personal opinion on the matter.  You need to have the puzzle pieces spread out  so that you can try and make the puzzle work. In this analogy though the number of possible solutions to the puzzle is only limited by our ability to come up with solutions.

Wait. Wait. Nope lost it. I thought I was almost making sense there.

Anyway, Inception and Mulholland Drive both delve into the impact of our subconscious on dreams. It’s about that part of our personality that we don’t control and sometimes have trouble facing in reality.  Leo struggles with his the imprint of his dead wife on his subconscious, something he can’t control until he finds a way to deal with in on a psychological level.

This is very similar to the unspoke, perhaps even imaged, love Diane Selwyn has towards the woman she owes everything to, Rita (Laura Harring).  Diane creates an alternate reality within her dreams where she can love Rita the way she really wants to, but ultimately reality forces it’s way into the delusion she has dreamed up.

At the end of the day though, Mulholland Drive makes very little sense. But that is kind of the attraction, there is a payoff for the viewer who watches closely and survives some of the bizarre disconnected scenes.  While it doesn’t fit into the traditional Hollywood mold if you invest in the characters and follow them down David Lynch’s rabbit hole there is a payoff that comes from attempting to comprehend.

Discussing the possibilities of the film with your friends and debating what may or may not be the case is a rare payoff these days in the unimaginative Hollywood calculus of hot actor/actress + quirky popular comedian = gobs and gobs of money.

But is that really worth your $11?

I’d take a confusing but debatable Mulholland Drive or Inception any day of the week over box office juggernauts that fit the pre-determined mold of success.



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