I used to hate Mulholland Drive. Loathe it. But it's one of those films that keeps creeping up from your subconscious.
So a few weeks ago, fresh out of softcore lesbian porn, I popped this in to refresh my memory on what was one of the most frustrating, intriguing movies I've ever seen.
And what I found was a movie that was really much simpler than all other explanations have led you to believe.
Two things really helped.
1) Occam's Razor: the most simple explanation is the right one.
2) Jeremy Blackman, though his interpretation is brilliant, goes too far into the realm of subjectivity. He nailed it, but he went too far. Read his post, watch the movie, then simplify, and you'll have it.
I want to comment on the surrealism/nonsense thing. Like pretention, this term is overused. One of my favorite things my favorite film critic has said about films is they've changed the way we dream. In doing this, films these days reflect our dreams. Two greatest proprietors of this idea were Kurosawa and Welles. So why shouldn't films be surreal?
I am going to elaborate on what NEON has said in hopes of shedding more light on to things.
The scene in the diner is beautiful for several reasons. It perfectly captures a feeling of fear like no other. It captures that nightmare feeling. And it sets up future scenes in the film.
Betty is dreaming here, a final dream before she dies. Her life flashing before her eyes, her nightmare, her regret, the fear of the unknown. She's gone out to Hollywood, hopes it's beautiful, but knows there is danger lurking in the shadows. Or rather should I say is paranoid.
The film changes once the key is put into the lock. Dream over, reality begins. Where Betty/Diane has been shafted by Rita/Camilla. Where she decides to have her killed, and then kills herself over the guilt. The dream is melodrama, wishful thinking of what happened. That's why all the craziness. That's why the pink paint. That's why the cowboy. That's why the conspiracy theories of weird little men in wheelchairs, and hit men. That's why she turned an awful script into something beautiful. She thought she was a much better actress than she was. Vanity. That's what the film is about, among other things. Vanity, and how it will crush you. I could go on and on, but when you have an epiphany, when a film like this finally clicks for you, it's better not to say too much, and only take questions that need to be answered.
The other key is, of course, the Silencio scene. No Hay Banda! There is no band. Translation: everything is all a ruse. A singer sings a song in Spanish (turn on subtitles), and then falls over dead and is dragged off the stage. A perfect parallel for Betty's suicide. She sings a song of love, but is faking (acting), and then kills herself. Bam, there it is. Lynch actually tips his hat here, telling you what you've seen is a ruse. There is no band. What you've seen is fake, and you will now see the reality of what has transpired.
The problem is, since the movie is so simple, you must then ask yourself if the obfuscation was necessary. This and Lost Highway now diverge, but also become so similar. The more Lynch's films are understood, the more similarities are found between them, the more simple yet complex they become, and how well woven they are.