Mulholland Drive (film)

Mulholland Drive
Theatrical release poster showing the film's title against a dark blue image of the Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles atop another still shot of Laura Elena Harring in a blonde wig staring at something off camera toward the lower right corner
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDavid Lynch
Produced by
Written byDavid Lynch
Music byAngelo Badalamenti
CinematographyPeter Deming
Edited byMary Sweeney
Distributed by
Release date
  • May 16, 2001 (2001-05-16) (Cannes)
  • October 12, 2001 (2001-10-12) (United States)
  • November 21, 2001 (2001-11-21) (France)
Running time
146 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States[2]
Budget$15 million[4]
Box office$20.1 million[5]

Mulholland Drive (stylized as Mulholland Dr.) is a 2001 neo-noir mystery film written and directed by David Lynch and starring Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Justin Theroux, Ann Miller, and Robert Forster. It tells the story of an aspiring actress named Betty Elms (Watts), newly arrived in Los Angeles, who meets and befriends an amnesiac woman (Harring) recovering from a car accident. The story follows several other vignettes and characters, including a Hollywood film director (Theroux).

Originally conceived as a television pilot, a large portion of the film was shot in 1999 with Lynch's plan to keep it open-ended for a potential series. After viewing Lynch's cut, however, television executives rejected it. Lynch then provided an ending to the project, making it a feature film. The half-pilot, half-feature result, along with Lynch's characteristic style, has left the general meaning of the film's events open to interpretation. Lynch has declined to offer an explanation of his intentions for the narrative, leaving audiences, critics, and cast members to speculate on what transpires. He gave the film the tagline "A love story in the city of dreams".[6]

Categorized as a psychological thriller, the film earned Lynch the Prix de la mise en scène (Best Director Award) at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival, as well as an Academy Award nomination for Best Director. Mulholland Drive launched Harring's career and boosted Watts' Hollywood profile considerably and was the last feature film to star veteran Hollywood actress Ann Miller. It is now widely regarded as one of Lynch's finest works, and as one of the greatest films of the 21st century. A. O. Scott of The New York Times writes that while some might consider the plot an "offense against narrative order ... the film is an intoxicating liberation from sense, with moments of feeling all the more powerful for seeming to emerge from the murky night world of the unconscious".[7]

In the British Film Institute's 2012 Sight & Sound Poll, Mulholland Drive was ranked the 28th greatest film ever made.[8][9] In 2016, Mulholland Drive was named as the greatest film of the 21st century in a poll conducted by BBC Culture.[10]


A dark-haired woman is the sole survivor of a car crash on Mulholland Drive, a winding road high in the Hollywood Hills. Injured and in shock, she makes her way down into Los Angeles and sneaks into an apartment. Later that morning, an aspiring actress named Betty Elms arrives at the apartment, which is normally occupied by her Aunt Ruth. Betty is startled to find the woman, who has amnesia and assumes the name "Rita" after seeing a poster for the film Gilda starring Rita Hayworth. To help the woman remember her identity, Betty looks in Rita's purse, where she finds a large amount of money and an unusual blue key.

At a diner called Winkie's, a man tells his companion about a nightmare in which he dreamt there was a horrible figure behind the diner. When they investigate, the figure appears, causing the man with the nightmare to collapse in fright. Elsewhere, director Adam Kesher has his film commandeered by mobsters, who insist he cast an unknown actress named Camilla Rhodes as the lead in his film. Adam resists, but after being thrown out of his house when he finds his wife cheating on him, he learns that his bank has closed his line of credit and he is broke. He agrees to meet a mysterious figure called The Cowboy, who urges him to cast Camilla Rhodes for his own good. Meanwhile, a bungling hit man attempts to steal a book full of phone numbers and leaves three people dead.

While trying to learn more about Rita's accident, Betty and Rita go to Winkie's and are served by a waitress named Diane, which causes Rita to remember the name "Diane Selwyn." They find Diane Selwyn in the phone book and call her, but she does not answer. Betty goes to an audition, where her performance is highly praised. A casting agent takes her to a soundstage where a film called The Sylvia North Story, directed by Adam, is being cast. When Camilla Rhodes auditions, Adam capitulates to casting her. Betty locks eyes with Adam, but she flees before she can meet him, saying she is late to meet a friend.

Betty and Rita go to Diane Selwyn's apartment and break in when no one answers the door. In the bedroom, they find the body of a woman who has been dead for several days. Terrified, they return to their apartment, where Rita disguises herself with a blonde wig. She and Betty have sex that night. At 2 a.m., Rita insists they go to a theater called Club Silencio. The emcee explains in different languages that everything is an illusion; Rebekah Del Rio comes on stage and begins singing the Roy Orbison song "Crying" in Spanish, then collapses while her vocals continue—her performance was a recording. Betty finds a blue box in her purse that matches Rita's key. Upon returning to the apartment, Rita retrieves the key and finds that Betty has disappeared. Rita unlocks the box, and it falls to the floor with a thump.

Diane Selwyn wakes up in her bed in the same apartment that Betty and Rita investigated. She looks exactly like Betty, but is a failed actress driven into a deep depression by her failed affair with Camilla Rhodes, a successful actress who looks exactly like Rita. At Camilla's invitation, Diane attends a party at Adam's house on Mulholland Drive. At dinner, Diane states she came to Hollywood when her Aunt Ruth died and left her some money, and she met Camilla at an audition for The Sylvia North Story. Another woman who looks like the "Camilla Rhodes" from earlier kisses Camilla, and they turn and smile at Diane. Adam and Camilla prepare to make an important announcement, but they dissolve into laughter and kiss while Diane watches, crying. Later, Diane meets the hit man at Winkie's, hiring him to kill Camilla. He tells her she'll find a blue key in her apartment when the job is completed.

In her apartment, Diane looks at the blue key on her coffee table. Distraught, she is terrorized by hallucinations and runs screaming to her bed, where she shoots herself. A woman at the theater whispers, "Silencio."

Other Languages
български: Мълхоланд Драйв
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Mulholland Drive (film)
Esperanto: Mulholland Drive
Bahasa Indonesia: Mulholland Drive (film)
Simple English: Mulholland Drive (movie)
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Mulholland Drive (film)
Tiếng Việt: Mulholland Drive