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Friday, 4 January, 2002, 20:21 GMT
Lynch's Mulholland Drive mystifies
Rita (Laura Elena Harring, left) has amnesia
Mulholland Drive: Centred around the glamour of Hollywood
By BBC News Online's Jayne Douglas

Expect the abnormal is the best advice for any film with David Lynch at the helm, and it is even more apt in the case of Mulholland Drive.

Lynch's surreal and thoroughly infuriating mystery is the story of two women seeking their identity in Hollywood.

One is Rita - played by Laura Harring - who emerges from a car accident with amnesia and finds herself wandering around LA in search of shelter.

The other is Betty - played by Naomi Watts - an aspiring actress who arrives in LA to find fame but finds a dazed Rita using the bathroom in her aunt's apartment.

Justin Theroux as film director Adam
The movie started out as a TV pilot
Together, the pair attempt to unravel the mystery of Rita's identity using only a remembered name and the contents of her handbag for clues.

But this is a rather basic outline of the story which originally began life as a pilot project for the American television network ABC.

Lynch spent a year of his creative life on the TV pilot which ABC eventually ditched along with its $7m (4.8m) investment.

It would not be surprising if nerves had got the better of ABC. Even adventurous viewers who found themselves intrigued by Twin Peaks would be at a loss with Mulholland Drive.

Any plot, in the usual sense, is ditched by Lynch in favour of an unconventional narrative with seemingly unrelated twists and turns.

Surreal

Mulholland Drive makes no rational sense but, if you are willing to accept this, you will find yourself amazed and captivated by Lynch's fantastic creation.

Several subplots run throughout the film and appear to be unrelated to the main narrative unveiling before your eyes.

In one, a man reveals his recurring nightmare to a friend just before it turns into reality. He is literally scared to death by a fungus-covered tramp who jumps out at him.

The movie, part-thriller and part-love story, is a stunning display of Lynch's directorial ability with several references back to his previous works Twin Peaks and Blue Velvet.

The film draws to a surprising finish when a clever twist at the end brings the film back to the beginning.

But after a bottom-numbing two-and-a-half hours, several plot lines were still dangling and the audience was left bewildered.

Mulholland Drive is on general release in the UK from 4 January.

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Adam Mars-Jones on Front Row
"It didn't run out of surprises"
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