“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”
In my opinion, Mulholland Dr. is the closest David Lynch has ever come to being a romantic. It’s a story told out of time and out of mind, where the evil mechanics of the world chew up a young woman and spits her out. But, it’s also the story of a first true love, and the intensity that comes with that emotion.
It’s fairly common knowledge that the period right after coming out/coming to terms with one’s sexuality can be a bit like a delayed teenager. Heightened emotions and tawdry drama frequently ensues. Casual infidelity, lies, screaming, and grudges can be hallmarks of the first real relationships a queer person can have. Not everybody has these issues, but I’ve seen enough people have them where it seems like a total given.
Mulholland Dr. is structured like an enigma, a mobius strip, or a gordian knot. Everybody has their own interpretation of what is happening, and nobody is altogether wrong. In the first half, fresh off the plane Betty finds an enigmatic lady with Amnesia in her house. Through trying to find out the lady’s real identity, the two fall in love…only to be replaced by their alternate universe counterparts Diane Selwyn and Camilla Rhodes. Diane is infatuated with Camilla, who manipulates those around her as a vague sort of polysexual succubus. At the end of the relationship, sick of being batted around one too many times, Diane finally makes ultimate decisions…which may lead us back to the beginning of the movie. Are Betty and Rita idealistic fantasy versions of Diane and Camilla, one of those mid-breakup heart-wrenching fantasies where you are so in love with the person…that you just wish there were different circumstances? Or, are Diane and Camilla the later versions of Betty and Rita, so changed over the course of their relationship that even their names have been changed?
In either interpretation, one reading is that Betty/Diane is having her first real relationship now that she has escaped the small town nature of her Deep River, Ontario home (2011 population: 4,193). She’s having to deal with her first True Romance, and the devastation of a breakup of such magnitude, only without the support structure that is in place for most teenagers. When Diane is abandoned by Camilla for Adam, it’s not just crushing her ideals of love, but also challenging her new-found lesbian infatuation. Lynch, for his part, is coming to terms with the idea of first loves opening up the world with the bliss of an unknown and glorious future and then crushing that world because there is no true elation without a bit of soul crushing.
Mulholland Dr. airs on ThrillerMax on Sunday, June 26 at 5:15pm.