I am completely baffled by this movie. I assumed, as we were watching it, that in the end, all the pieces would come together and i would have a firm understanding about what had happened, and why. I was wrong… Upon reading the classical interpretation, I still find myself confused. I would have never come up with the dream theory on my own. It does, however seem to make sense. Why else would Betty have been so willing to help the stranger Rita, who’s circumstances seemed sketchy at the best of times. I do, however, like the idea of Schizophrenia as an explanation. It causes the film to seem more real– the mental breakdown of a woman, as opposed to the fevered dream she’s having and her twisted Hollywood life (how is THAT original?!). Insanity is real.
I think Mulholland Drive definitely would be characterized as a complex narrative. The movie left us with a lack of closure, and character relationships that fueled the movie (whether the relationships be that of an insane woman with herself, or between real people i do not claim to understand). Mulholland Drive fits Mittell’s framework even more so, in that it was both meant to be, and would have worked more smoothly as, a TV show. There’s no doubt that Mulholland Drive’s plot is intricate and complex. The question is; Was it enjoyable?
The answer: I’m not actually sure. Throughout the movie, i was barred from enjoyment by a thick fog of confusion. As soon as i thought i might be beginning to understand, something was thrown in the spokes, bringing me back to a mental standstill. I feel that there is a difference between narrative complexity meant to keep the viewer intrigued and on their toes, and narrative complexity mean to leave the viewer partially clueless as to what they just saw/ what it means. Shows like Arrested Development can keep me entertained for hours (and have, thanks to the DVD box sets) but Mulholland Drive just seemed to make me feel inadequate. I was so confused by the end, that i could barely even muster up a theory as to what i thought had happened. I feel that perhaps watching it again would be much more enjoyable (after reading the theories, and being able to search for the clues) but upon first viewing, i cannot say i enjoyed it.