It begins at night, on a quiet road where a scheme turns into an accident. A lady dressed in red survives a shocking car crash, gets out of the wreckage, and walks down forested hills into a neighborhood. There she lays hidden on a front lawn and falls asleep. This is one among several narratives to follow.
When the lady wakes up, she sneaks into a home and takes a shower and sleeps on a bed. Her name is Rita (Laura Elena Harring) and she eventually meets Betty (Naomi Watts) who is the stories main character. Betty is the niece of the homeowner and is also an aspiring actress who judging by her joy, affection, and determination, is deserving of success.
Optimism grows around Betty. Her companionship with Rita seems destined for friendship and her acting skill is admired by many. Then as the story progresses, other subplots proceed on very different paths. A contemptuous film director named Adam (Justin Theroux) clashes with gangsters (Dan Hedaya and Angelo Badalamenti) regarding casting choices. A low rent killer steals a black book from a fellow peer. These following events occur as farcical situations. Satire presents Adam as a sour and imperious professional who carries a golf club. His conflict becomes more humorous in scenes like one involving a landscaper and later when he meets an intelligent cowboy (Monty Montgomery) who seems to originate from another dimension. The story about the black book also involves black comedy around the incompetent handling of plans.
The storylines collide in tone and are in no hurry to reveal any connections. The seductive mood of the main narrative clashes with ridicule from the surrounding events. Romance is heightened to moments of erotica. Violence leads to devastation. It’s a marriage of art and silliness. Are the stories supposed to have any important relation to one another? The film, shot by Peter Deming, expands into many possibilities. Considering Betty’s state of mind, it all leads to a devastating but powerful finale. Mulholland Drive, written and directed by David Lynch, is innovative and mischievous, depraved and oblique, and yet masterfully handled.