I think most film artist do not value confusion as a way to get their message across, whatever it may be. However, confusion may very well be a vehicle for the tenor of a well received metaphor or other trope if you don’t lose your audience in frustration first. That is a risk. not everyone wants to take.
The film starts out making logical sense. I used to live in Hollywood so I enjoyed the courtyard apartment setting and the quirky-glam apartment manager. Betty seemed a bit too naive almost like a girl in a Jason movie. She is obviously from a small town and too eager to meet people in LA. Otherwise she would have followed her Aunt’s advice. Also, the interactions between people strike me as slowed down. This increases my impatience aka suspense level in this case.
So at the beginning I’m way more cautions about Rita than Betty is.
Then I don’t really believe Rita’s recovery. I’m suspicious of her. Especially when they go the late night Silencio gig. At this point I think black magic is involved. The slow movements and reactions Betty has serve to frustrate me a bit at her naivity and all too eager helpfulness. I see that she is changing from an ambitions actress to someonw who just wants to help Rita.
This is clear when she leaves the second audition to meet up with Rita.
I am also seeing this film as a statement about the creative control a director has over his casting. It seems that Lynch is saying that it isn’t so dreamy for the director either.
I feel bad for the director when he finds his wife with the pool guy, but realize that there is a strange disconnect between his wife and him. When she says “he will never return here” I’m thinking that doesn’t make sense. And then there is the way to calm and sober reaction of the pool guy who says “don’t you think he may be hurt?” before he punches the director.
So after that when the director’s money is cut off and his life looks about to crumble, I take that for Lynch saying that the behind the scene’s people are who really rule Hollywood. It wouldn’t be the first time an artisitc work has eluded to this possible fact about Hollywood.
Then there is Betty’s audition. I’m surprised by the change in her tone from her practice with Rita. It seems too sappy to me, and the producer’s response too staged.
As the twist starts to form, and Rita has blond hair. My first thought is that Rita is Diane, but then we find her dead. I know that Rita was close to Dian because she remembers her and if you know anything about amnesia, it makes sense that Diane was a key player in Rita’s life.
Then we start to see how Rita/Camilla flaunts her success in front of Diane knowing that it hurts Diane who is clearly obsessed with her. this obsession continues from the dream stage at the beginning when we see Betty’s ambitions shift from actress to Rita.
By the end of the film, I’m a bit confused as to exactly what thread happens. I had thought the neighbor played a larger role in Diane’s death and that Rita/Camille was less innocent than she really was.
I think my confusion was both frustrating and stimulating. Of course I did read the extra reading after watching the film, which did cut short my frustration phase so I’m not sure how long I would have been chewing on the different threads. I have seen this film before but it was a long time ago and for some reason I didn’t remember being quite as confused at the end.
There are two or more worlds here. There is a dream world where people have lives they wish they were leading. Then there is the harsh reality world where hookers and homless people exist and getting into the movies is really hard. They seem to overlap with the director and Camille, but mostly Camille who seems to walk unscathed between both worlds.
There are signs that the beginning is a dream world. One is the fact that Betty drops her luggage at the front of the apartment entrance and nothing happens to it. Then the fact that when Rita enters her life Rita seems to have several changes of cloths that fit her. Also, the key, as mentioned in the reading, is different from the dream state to the reality state. Oh, and the sudden appearance of the bos in Betty’s purse–very strange.
I think the box is the opening of pandora’s box which is a sexual box, if you will. So, if Betty had never made love to Rita, then things would have gone better for her.
Incoherent is a bad thing. It means that there was no sense of order even among the chaos. It is the feeling that the director also lost their way in telling the story and that the ties that bring about understanding were lost in production. I would not say that Muholland Drove was incoherent, just confusing.