When David Lynch’s head-muddling masterpiece first slunk onto DVD, the movie was noticeably missing any chapter stops. Not because of a screw-up at the replicating plant, but because Lynch wanted it that way, so viewers had to “watch the movie as a whole”. Five years on, there finally comes... Mulholland Drive: The Scene- Selection Edition! Except, inevitably, it’s all just a big wheeze. Click on one of six icons and you’re shuffled to a random slice of the film (different every time, natch). There’s still no chapter-skipping option either, so anyone looking to cue up the infamous hot lesbian-loving between Tinseltown wannabe Betty (Naomi Watts) and car-prang amnesiac “Rita” (Laura Harring) will just have to keep their free hand on the fast-forward button.
But Lynch’s little scene-lottery Gotcha! does make an inadvertently fine point: park anywhere in Mulholland Drive and your attention is instantly clamped. Click: the hilarious hitman fudge (two bonus victims, plus hoover and fire-alarm aggro). Click: the equally rib-bothering business as upstart director Adam (Justin Theroux) finds his missus in bed with none other than Billy Ray Cyrus (“He’s probably upset, Lorraine...”). Click: the 2am visit to Club Silencio (tears, seizures, Persona/Vertigo nods, Spanish Roy Orbison covers) – one of the richest, strangest sequences in Lynch history. Click: the no-less-extraordinary audition scene (kill-threats, lip-nibbling, pressure-cooker erotic tension) – surely the moment every casting director in Hollywood looked at the chameleonic Watts (then best known for Home And Away and Tank Girl) and uttered: “This is the girl.”
Except you wouldn’t know that from what is essentially Mulholland Drive: The INLAND EMPIRE Tie-In DVD Edition. This half-empty two-discer offers zilch in the way of retrospective insights. While we all know what the film did for Naomi’s wattage, it’d still be nice to see her – hell, anyone – look back on a project that began taking shape as long ago as 1998, beginning life as a rejected TV pilot before being resculpted into a movie. The cast interviews are on-set gush-bites held over from the infamously un-chaptered release, while the six minutes of behind-the-scenes B-roll footage are often annoyingly soundless. You’ll have more luck hunting down chopped scenes from the original pilot on YouTube than you will here.
But at least there are new-to-DVD chats with producer/editor/Lynch-partner Mary Sweeney (“I don’t want to edit other people’s films”) and composer Angelo Badalamenti, who tinkles the ivories and reveals the personal story behind his cameo as a thunder-faced, espresso-dribbling gangster-mogul. Lastly we get press-conference footage from Cannes 2001 – where Lynch shared Best Director with The Man Who Wasn’t There’s Joel Coel – with the Tsar of Bizarre musing, “Like in life, sometimes there’s laughter in the morning and crying in the afternoon.”
It’s as eloquent a way as any of summing up Betty’s (or is it Diane’s?) riveting spiral from wide-eyed, apple-pie hope to stinging, desperate despair. If you’re a fully paid-up member of the Lynch mob then this makeweight package will disappoint. If not, it’s high time you surrendered to an experience that’ll baffle, exhilarate and leave you in stunned silencio.