If you’ve seen David Lynch’s 2001 Mulholland Drive and claimed that you understood the plot in one viewing, you’re a liar.
The movie has such a convoluted plot, I had to watch two videos and read 3 articles to get the gist of it. To be honest, I’m still not sure. Well, that’s Lynch for you.
Before Inception, there was Mulholland Drive
Mulholland Drive tops the list of BBC’s 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century. To quote BBC Culture, “The movie puzzles viewers but delights critics.” That’s probably the most accurate statement I’ve ever read about a movie.
When Mulholland Drive was released in 2001, it tanked at the box office. Despite getting praises from the critics and accolades from film festivals, the movie failed to perform at the theatres. Nevertheless, the movie has since gained cult status among film aficionados.
Mulholland Drive features Naomi Watts (Betty/Diane) and Laura Elena Harring (Rita/Camilla) as the leading ladies. The plot jumps back and forth between dream and reality to the point we (audience) cannot even differentiate between the two.
That’s all I’m going to reveal, in case you haven’t seen it. I don’t want to give away too much, as I won’t be able to do justice to the film.
Naomi Watts and Laura Elena Harring’s relationship
Although I’m pretty sure the revered lesbian sex scene in Mulholland Drive happens between Rita and Betty, I’m not arrogant enough to be 100% sure. Also, this is the internet and things are pretty permanent here.
So, I’m not going to address the characters by their names. Let’s stick with Naomi and Laura, please.
So, after making a startling/horrifying revelation, Naomi and Laura come back home. Laura is sleeping in Naomi’s bed (as we do) and is looking at her with ‘make love to me’ eyes.
“Thank you, Betty,” she says. (I’m still not convinced that she’s Betty.) Naomi, who’s clearly as smitten with Laura as Laura is with her, replies, “I shouldn’t have let you sleep on the couch last night.” Smooth, Naomi/Betty.
“Goodnight, sweet Betty,” whispers Laura and leans in for a kiss. “Goodnight,” replies Naomi and tenderly reciprocates her kiss.
Temperatures start rising as our two girls start undressing each other. “Have you ever done this before?” asks Naomi. “I don’t know. Have you?” asks Laura as she leans with even more intent this time.
Naomi affirms with redundancy, “I want to do it with you.” Angelo Badalamenti’s music intensifies and the lovemaking, too.
Arguably, the best lesbian sex scene to ever be filmed ends with Naomi/Betty’s haunting words, “I’m in love with you… I am in love with you.” Beautiful.
David Lynch’s handling of Mulholland Drive’s lesbian sex scene
We all know David Lynch is a capable director with hits like Twin Peaks and Eraserhead along with Mulholland Drive under his name. However, most male directors in Hollywood have often been criticised for their treatment of lesbian characters in their movies.
Lynch’s style of shooting could’ve easily over-sexualised Mulholland Drive’s lesbian sex scene. The camera doesn’t linger to objectify the two beautiful women on the screen. Instead, it translates that tender and sensitive ‘first time’ of the two leads by shooting the entire scene close-up.
Ever since the release, the movie has garnered unwanted attention for having a sex scene between two gorgeous women. It’s the same issue that Brokeback Mountain faced, as well. It’s a pity that some people have reduced these movies to just “lesbian/gay sex scenes.”
I urge you to watch Mulholland Drive and study the intricate plot and relationship of Betty/Naomi/Diane and Rita/Laura/Camilla. Trust me, it’ll be worth your time.