[MOVIE REVIEW]Driving to the Edge of Sanity

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[MOVIE REVIEW]Driving to the Edge of Sanity

A sensual tale of fantasy and nightmare told the way only David Lynch can tell it. Lynch promotes the film as "a love story in the city of dreams." It is a love story of sorts, but one gone awry.

The setting is a surreal Los Angeles that hovers between hope and defeat. The movie begins with people doing the jitterbug. The music, the loud colors and the bright smiles evoke nostalgia. The scene abruptly cuts to darkness, a limousine on Mulholland Drive and foreboding music. The sultry passenger (Laura Harring) survives a murder attempt cut short by a freak car accident. She stumbles out of the wreckage and looks down at the twinkling lights of Los Angeles.

The details unfold in a dreamlike layering. Characters are introduced, some who just disappear, others who turn up again in unexpected ways.

There is Betty (Naomi Watts), a squeaky-clean Hollywood hopeful who has just arrived from Canada. "Now I'm in this dream place," she gushes. She meets the Harring character, who has been struck by amnesia and does not even know her own name (although she takes the name "Rita" from a movie poster). Together, the two seek to unravel her story. The clues are a blue key and a purse stuffed with $50,000 - the only things Rita has in her possession.

Another major character is Adam Kesher (Justin Theroux), a Hollywood director whose movie is beginning to go seriously wrong. Mysterious figures pressure him to cast a woman named Camilla, and are not willing to take no for an answer.

Just when the film starts making sense, Rita opens up a blue box and is sucked inside. The next thing you know, everything changes, with the same actors playing seemingly different characters.

Lynch has been over this dark territory before, in his revolutionary, first film, "Eraserhead" (1977), "Blue Velvet" (1986) and in his television series "Twin Peaks" (1990). In fact, Lynch initially developed "Mulholland Drive" as a television series, before the network was so spooked by what he was creating that they pulled the plug.

What is real and what is a dream? Unlike "Memento," another nonlinear film this year, "Mulholland Drive" offers no easy answers. But for a film so abstract and odd, the plotting is surprisingly tight. "Mulholland Drive" is certainly not an easy film, but for people looking for sophisticated, adult storytelling, this is one of the best films in a long time.

by Joe Yong-hee

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