When I first saw this movie, I was far too young to see it. I didn’t understand the themes, or what it meant, but subsequent viewings have saved it for me, and it has sense risen to become my favorite film of all time.
It’s a film that I admit, on the surface is unusual and strange, this is David Lynch, what else can someone expect? Yet, despite all of his usual wackiness, at the film’s dark heart, is the theme of broken dreams in the most famous city in America.
The movie begins with an unknown woman emerging from a car wreck, a woman who was about to be murdered. She is the only person to survive the crash, and she happens to have amnesia. She hides out in an older woman’s apartment, not knowing that the woman’s niece, Betty, is coming to live there for a short time to try to get an acting career up off the ground.
The two accidentally meet while Betty looks around her aunt’s apartment and finds the amnesiac in the shower. The two become fast friends, despite the dishonesty on behalf of the amnesiac, and slowly, but eventually, become lovers.
Toward the last third of the movie, there is a massive shift in the film’s narrative. The characters, as we previously thought of them, go by different names. It’s a confusing switch for some, and for me, the first time I watched it, I didn’t understand the need for it. It wasn’t until my third viewing that I fully understood the movie and the reasons for going where it went. It wasn’t an easy movie to understand or solve, but once I felt I solved the puzzle to my satisfaction, I couldn’t believe how far deep the film went with only a little to go on and how many different interpretations the movie could possibly give. It’s an incredible feat by David Lynch, absolutely incredible.
This film itself is not the only masterclass in film-making, it also has, in my opinion, one of the best performances on film. Naomi Watts, who gives a subtle, nuanced portrayal in a difficult, dual role that I, not only believe deserved a nomination for an Oscar, but should’ve won.