movie trailer (apple.com - quicktime)
NOTE: This spoiler was written by Taller94 who says that it "...is actually very, very good. Bizarre and dark, but with that Lynch touch."
The film opens with a group of dancers performing the jitterbug against a purple backdrop. Looks like something out of the 1950's. This is intercut with flashes of a young blonde girl, standing between an elderly couple, smiling for the cameras and holding a trophy of some sort. The next scene is a POV shot of someone (we're not supposed to know yet) breathing heavily, then collapsing on a bed.
Then, the movie really starts. We see a black limousine travelling up Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles. In the back of the limo is a dark-haired woman. The limo stops, and the woman tells the driver that they're not supposed to stop there. The driver then turns to her and points a gun. He orders the woman to get out of the car. The other man upfront goes to the back of the car and opens the woman's door. Just then, a car full of drunk teenagers comes around the corner, and crashes into the limo. The crash is diastrous, with everyone dead except the woman, who stumbles out of the wreckage with only a bloody bruise on her head. She eventually walks down Mulholland Drive and onto Sunset Boulevard. Looking rather scared, the woman wanders to an apartment complex and hides in the bushes, where she also falls asleep.
The next day, a young woman named Betty (the blonde girl from the opening scene) is arriving in LAX from Deep River, Ontario. She's moving to L.A. to become an actress, and is staying in her aunt's apartment while her aunt, an actress, is shooting on location. Betty is being escorted by the elderly couple from earlier, and they get to the terminal, say good-bye, hug, and part ways. The elderly couple drive away in a limo, grinning very wide. Betty catches a cab to her aunt's apartment.
The dark-haired woman wakes up in the bushes, and sees a red-haired lady packing her bags, and leaving her apartment. The dark-haired woman takes this opportunity to sneak into the vacant apartment and hide there. Eventually, Betty's cab pulls up to this complex, and she meets the manager, an aged actress named Coco. Coco shows her around, and is very kind and sweet. Betty moves her stuff into the apartment, and while looking around, finds the dark-haired woman in the shower. Betty, being the bubble-headed optimist she is, figures that the woman is a friend of her aunt's. When the dark-haired woman gets out of the shower, she looks in the mirror and finds a reflection of a "Gilda" poster with Rita Hayworth. The woman says her name is "Rita." When Betty starts asking her more questions, Rita can only say she remembers a car accident on Mulholland Drive, and nothing else. She doesn't even know her real name. When the two look inside Rita's purse, all they find is about $100,000 and a mysterious blue key.
Meanwhile, across town, at a restaurant called Winkie's, a nerdy man sits with his friend, and explains that he dreamt about this place, that the friend was there as well, and that behind the restaurant, was a creature so frightening, the nerdy guy would never want to see it outside of a dream. The friend suggests that the two walk to the back of the diner, and see if the creature is really there. The nerdy guy, looking very nervous, finally agrees, and the two venture into an alley behind Winkie's. As they round a corner, a dark figure, dressed like a homeless person, appears, sending the nerdy guy into a cardiac arrest, which causes him to die.
Across town, a sinister man in a wheelchair is making calls, and relaying the message: "The girl is still missing." He also listens in on a meeting that is taking place at a Hollywood studio. A director named Adam Kesher is sitting in a boardroom with his manager and two executives. Adam is filming a movie and is in the process of re-casting his lead actress. Suddenly, two mobster thugs, the Castilengi brothers (or something like that) enter the room. They are played by Dan Hedaya (great character actor) and David Lynch's music composer Angelo Badalamenti, in a surprise cameo. The brothers are very quiet and unfriendly. They take out a headshot of a young actress named Camilla and shows it to the executives. Angelo merely says, "This is the girl." At first, Adam is confused as to what's going on, and demands to know what Angelo meant by his remark. While this is going on, Angelo orders an espresso, and the waiter brings it in. The executives are nervous and tell Angelo that it's the finest espresso in Los Angeles, since Angelo is very hard to please. Angelo takes a sip, then spits it out on the napkin. Then, there is some brief commotion, and the executives freak out, while Angelo yells, "This is the girl!" Adam is looking around, still confused, then points at the headshot and says, "That girl is not in my picture." The other brother (Dan Hedaya) simply looks at Adam and says, "This is no longer your picture." Adam storms out of the meeting and goes to his car, but not before taking his 7-iron and smashing the mobsters' limo with it.
At another part of town, a hitman is talking to a buddy of his in an office building. They are both laughing about the car accident the night before. The buddy pulls out a blackbook with a list of phone numbers. When he does this, the hitman shoots him in the head, killing him. To make it look like a suicide, the hitman wipes away his prints and places the gun in the dead guy's hand, but accidently pulls the trigger. The bullet goes through the wall, and the hitman hears a scream. He goes next door, and finds an overweight woman screaming about something that bit her in the butt. The hitman wrestles with her, and drags her into his dead buddy's office. A weird-looking janitor is watching all of this, and starts to follow them. Eventually, the hitman shoots the woman twice in the back. When the janitor enters the office, with his vacuum, the hitman kills him too, then shoots the vacuum. This, however, causes the electricity to blow out and set off the building's alarm. The hitman, who is quite an idiot, flees via the fire escape.
Betty and Rita are still trying to figure out the mystery behind Rita's identity.
They walk to Winkie's and use a pay phone to place an anonymous call to the police regarding the crash on Mulholland Drive. The police are tight-lipped about it, and it's not in the papers, since it occured so late the night before. While having coffee at Winkie's, Rita sees the nametag of a waitress, which says "Diane." Suddenly, Rita remembers something. The name "Diane Selwyn" rings a bell. Rita and Betty rush home, and look in the yellow pages. They come across a "D. Selwyn" and make a call to see if it's Rita's voice on the answering machine. While dialing, Betty makes the remark, "It's strange calling yourself." (Very important later) The voice on the answering machine is not Rita's, but at least the girls have an address
After the incident at the studio, Adam is driving home. While on his car phone with his assistant, he discovers that the executives, under the orders of Mr. Roque (the man in the wheelchair), have ordered that the production of Adam's movie be shut down. Adam is troubled by this, but insists on going home. When he arrives, however, he finds his wife in bed with Gene the Pool Man (Billy Ray Cyrus)! Adam, upset and angry, takes his wife's jewelry and smears it in pink paint. He also gets into a fight with his wife, but Gene walks in and throws Adam out of his own house. Adam leaves, bloodied, his black suit splattered with pink paint.
Later that night, Betty gets a visit from a psychic, who tells her that someone is in trouble. Coco walks up, and reveals the psychic to be just a resident of the complex, and gives Betty a copy of a script, which is holding auditions the next day. Betty seems very excited about this.
Across town, Adam is holding up in a run-down hotel run by a guy named Cookie. Cookie knocks on Adam's door, and informs the director that his bank called and said his credit is gone. Adam thanks Cookie, then calls his assistant. She tells Adam that Cookie was right, Adam is broke. However, a strange man who calls himself The Cowboy wants to meet Adam that night at a ranch in Beechwood Canyon. The assistant believes that The Cowboy is connected with what is going on. Unsure, but desperate, Adam agrees to meet with The Cowboy. He drives to Beechwood Canyon, and meets The Cowboy, who is quite a mysterious character. The Cowboy tells Adam that if he wants everything to return to normal, Adam needs to cast the actress named Camilla. Should Adam do this, production will start again on his film. The Cowboy then says to Adam, "If you do right, you will see me one more time. If you do wrong, you will see me two more times," then dissapears.
The next day, Betty is getting ready for her audition. She is rehearsing with Rita, who is a terrible actress. Betty, however, is quite convincing. The part is for a film called "The Sylvia North Story." Betty calls a cab, but tells Rita that when she gets back, they will go to Diane Selwyn's apartment. Betty goes to the studio, and auditions for the scene in front of the director, the producer, and a cynical casing agent and her assistant. Betty does the scene with a much older man, and they both play the scene a lot more sensual than intended. However, it blows away everyone, and Betty is thrilled by her performance. Betty leaves with the casting agent and her assistant, and the three venture onto Adam's set. Adam's film is set in the 1950's, with everyone sining Connie Stevens songs. Adam and Betty lock eyes, and an attraction is immediately sensed. Adam is still auditioning girls for the lead role, and when the actress named Camilla performs, Adam pulls his producer aside and says, "This is the girl." The producer says Adam has made a wise decision, but Adam look sickened by what he does. Betty, looking at her watch, realizes that she has to get back to Rita, and leaves the set and the opportunity to meet Adam.
Betty and Rita take a cab over to Diane Selwyn's apartment complex. They see that Diane's apartment is #12. Betty knocks on the door, and a ragged woman answers. Betty asks if the woman is Diane Selwyn, but the woman says she is not, and that she and Diane switched apartments, and Diane is now in #16. Betty and Rita go to #16 and knock on the door. No one answers, so Betty, acting like Nancy Drew, climbs through an unlocked window and opens the door for Rita. The two enter the apartment and clutch their noses. Something smells rank. When the girls get to the bedroom, they find a decaying corpse. Rita screams, but Betty covers her mouth. The two return to Betty's apartment and Rita decides she wants to cut her hair, but Betty suggests just wearing a wig, a short blonde wig, which makes Rita look like Betty.
That night, Betty is sleeping in her bed, and invites Rita in, because she feels bad that Rita sleeps on the couch. Rita takes off her wig, and climbs into bed with Betty. After a few awkward moments, the two end up having sex. Betty tells Rita that she loves her. Later that night, Rita starts talking in her sleep. Her volume gets higher, and she's speaking in Spanish. She keeps repeating, "Silencio." Betty wakes her up, and Rita asks Betty to go with her somewhere. The two get dressed, and go to Club Silencio. It's a strange club in an alley, that looks very similar to the alley behind Winkie's. Betty and Rita sit down, while the MC tells everyone that everything they're hearing is tape-recorded. Then a woman named Rebecca Del Rio comes out, and performs a Spanish version of Roy Orbison's "Crying." During this, Betty starts shaking violently. Suddenly, Rebecca Del Rio faints on stage, but her singing continues. Two men come and carry her off-stage. After Betty stops shaking, she notices a strange little blue box inside her purse. She and Rita immediately go back to the apartment, and pull out the blue key. Right before Rita is about to open the box, she realizes that Betty is gone, dissapeared. Rita opens the box, and the camera goes inside, only to have the box fall to the ground, then dissapear when the red-haired lady (Betty's aunt) enters the room. Betty and Rita, however, are both gone.
Here's where things really start getting weird:
We are now back at Diane Selwyn's apartment, and we see her rotting corpse. The Cowboy suddenly shows up and tells her to get up. We then realize that not only is Diane alive, but it's Betty! The once perky, blonde, pretty Betty is now a burned-out, trashy Diane. The neighbor from before knocks on her door, and asks for some of her stuff back. The neighbor picks up an ashtray off Diane's coffee table, where he see a blue key (a different one from before). Diane is walking around her crummy apartment, depressed, and seeing glimpses of Rita, who Diane now calls Camilla. Diane even fantasizes the two of them fooling around on the couch, when Camilla suddenly says that they should not do this anymore. Diane is getting rejected. We then see Camilla and Diane on the set of Adam's film. Adam is rehearsing a romantic scene with Camilla, and Camilla insists on Diane watching. Adam and Camilla start making out, and Diane watches the two, jealously. Diane then goes home, and masturbates, but can't get any satisfaction out of it. Then, the phone rings, and it's Camilla, who tells Diane that a car is waiting for her outside her apartment. Diane gets dressed, and rides in the limousine, which is driving up Mulholland Drive, just like the beginning of the movie. The limo stops, and Diane tells the driver that they're not supposed to stop there. The driver turns around, but doesn't have a gun, and tells Diane that it's a surprise. Camilla suddenly opens the door, and leads Diane up a path to a house, where there's a cocktail party going on. It's Adam's house, and he brings the girls some drinks. Obviously, Adam and Camilla are dating, and Camilla drags Diane around out of pity. Adam then introduces his mother to Diane. Adam's mother is none other than Coco. Instead of the sweet and kind landlord from before, Coco is rather rude to Diane, blaming her for holding up dinner. During dinner, Adam and Camilla can't keep their hands off each other, constantly kissing and petting, driving Diane mad with envy. Camilla also kisses the dream version of Camilla (the actress that the mobsters wanted in Adam's film), and notices The Cowboy again. Coco asks Diane how she met Camilla. Diane goes onto explain that back home in Deep River, Ontario, she won a jitterbug contest (the opening sequence), which gave her enough money to come to L.A. Unfortunetly, Diane's aunt died, and she met Camilla on the set of "The Sylvia North Story," the lead role going to Camilla. They've been friends ever since. However, no one seems really interested in Diane, and everyone looks at her with a look of pity. Just then, Adam and Camilla make an announcement. It seems like Adam's going to announce his and Camilla's engagement, but before he can say it, someone drops a dish, which distracts Diane. She turns to see the dropped dishes, and is now at Winkie's, sitting across the bumbling hitman from before. She shows the hitman the headshot of Camilla, and tells him, "This is the girl." She also gives him some money. Before she slides it over to him, however, the hitman warns her that once she gives him the money, there's no going back on the deal. Diane slides the money, not thinking twice. The hitman shows her the blue key (the one on her coffee table, not the one that opened the box) and says when the job's done, this key will be where Diane instructed it to be (I suppose the coffee table). Diane looks up at the register, and sees the nerdy guy from before (the one who died of the heart attack). Diane also notices the nametag of her waitress as she pours the coffee. The nametag reads: "Betty."
The next shot is a sinister shot of the creature behind Winkie's, holding a paper bag that contains the blue box. The creature puts the bag on the ground, and two miniature versions of the elderly couple from earlier comes crawling out.
Meanwhile, Diane is back at her apartment, looking saddened. She's sitting on her couch, staring at the blue key sitting on her coffee table. Just then, there's a loud knock on the door. Diane ignores it, and watches as the miniature elderly couple crawls under her door. The elderly couple then grows to normal size, and haunts Diane. She keeps retreating from then, screaming, then runs to the bedroom, opens a drawer, pulls out a gun, and shoots herself. The next scene goes back to Club Silencio, and shows a blue-haired woman who whispers: "Silencio."
Okay, what was this all about? Well, it took two viewings to figure out this much: Everything that happened in the final quarter of the film, starting with the opening of the bluebox, actually happened. Diane was a burned-out actress who longed for Camilla, who left Diane for the hip director Adam. Diane did hire the hitman to kill Camilla, and the hit did happen. Diane's guilt (symbolized by the elderly couple) drove her to kill herself. After she shot herself, Diane then had a dream (which is quite odd after shooting herself) that was the first three-quarters of the film. She imagined herself as Betty (from the waitress' nametag), an aspiring actress who is beautiful and impresses directors at auditions. She also dreamt that the hit on Camilla did not go down as planned, and that Camilla suffered amnesia, relying on Diane to help her. Diane also imagined Adam as an unlucky guy, with mobsters on his back, his wife in bed with another man, and no money. Adam is also not too impressed with Camilla, or at least the dream version of Camilla. As for everything else? Well, this is a David Lynch film, and basically, any theories one has about his films remain as such, because Lynch never provides clear answers about his films.
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