Mulholland Drive Explained: A Complete Explanation of David Lynch’s Movie!

mulholland drive explained

Mulholland Drive (stylized as Mulholland Dr.) is a surrealist neo-noir mystery film directed by David Lynch and starring Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Justin Theroux, Ann Miller, Mark Pellegrino, and Robert Forster that was released in 2001.

It depicts the story of Betty Elms (Watts), a young aspiring actress who meets and befriends an amnesiac woman (Harring) who is recovering from a vehicle accident. Several other vignettes and people are featured in the story, including a Hollywood film director (Theroux).

The American-French co-production was designed as a television pilot, and Lynch shot a substantial section of it in 1999 with the intention of leaving it open-ended for a possible series. Television bosses, on the other hand, rejected Lynch’s cut after seeing it.

Lynch then gave the concept a conclusion, turning it into a feature film. The half-pilot, half-feature result, along with Lynch’s surrealist aesthetic, has left the overall meaning of the events in the film up to interpretation.

Lynch has remained tight-lipped about his plans for the story, leaving spectators, critics, and cast members to guess what will happen. “A love story in the city of dreams,” he dubbed the film.


  • Betty Elms/Diane Selwyn is played by Naomi Watts.
  • Rita/Camilla Rhodes is played by Laura Elena Harring.
  • Adam Kesher is played by Justin Theroux.
  • Coco is played by Ann Miller.
  • Joe is played by Mark Pellegrino.
  • Detective McKnight is played by Robert Forster.
  • Detective Domgaard is played by Brent Briscoe.
  • Vincenzo Castigliane is played by Dan Hedaya.
  • Luigi Castigliane is played by Angelo Badalamenti.
  • Monty Montgomery in the role of The Cowboy
  • Louise Bonner is played by Lee Grant.
  • Wally Brown is played by James Karen.
  • Jimmy Katz is played by Chad Everett.
  • Richard Green in the role of The Magician
  • Rebekah Del Rio in the Role of Herself
  • Camilla Rhodes is played by Melissa George.
  • Geno Silva takes on the role of Cookie/Emcee.
  • Gene is played by Billy Ray Cyrus.

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Explained Conclusion

mulholland drive explained

We return to Diane Selwyn’s apartment at this point in the movie. She wakes up, unmistakably alive, and it is hinted that Betty is Diane Selwyn. The formerly stunning want tobe movie star, on the other hand, has lost a lot of her lustre.

Diane is clearly unhappy and in a poisonous relationship with Rita, who has since changed her name to Camilla Rhodes, whom Adam was forced to cast in his future film. We see Diane/skill Betty’s and charm overwhelmed by Rita/Camilla as she seamlessly navigates Hollywood as a seductive movie star in a relationship with her director, Adam, in a disturbing turn of events.

Diane is driven insane, and she has terrifying hallucinations in which the elderly couple from earlier appears from the strange blue box and mocks her maniacally. She finally makes it to her room and shoots herself in the head.

The film finishes with a montage of pictures portraying Los Angeles in all of its harsh glory, as well as a closeup of the actress/singer from the theatre. She says, ‘Silencio.’

As I previously stated, I believe it is impossible to fully unravel the riddles of ‘Mulholland Drive,’ as it is a film that is very dependant on your interpretation of it. However, I believe there is one explanation concerning Lynch’s movie that is the most likely.

The first half of the film can be understood as a dream sequence in which Diane Selwyn is replaced with Betty Elms, a lady liked and admired by Camilla/Rita who has a promising career in Hollywood ahead of her. Betty is, in retrospect, uncovering clues about her own life rather than Rita’s during the course of the film.

As a result, the second half is a harsh depiction of Diane’s reality, as well as the reality of many young girls who travel to Los Angeles in search of a career in the entertainment industry.


mulholland drive explained

The only survivor of a car accident on Mulholland Drive, a winding route high in the Hollywood Hills, is a dark-haired woman. She makes her way down to Los Angeles, injured and in shock, and sneaks into an apartment. Betty Elms, an aspiring actress, arrives at the flat later that morning, which is generally occupied by her Aunt Ruth.

Betty is taken aback when she discovers the woman, who has amnesia and goes by the name “Rita,” after seeing a poster for the Rita Hayworth film Gilda. Betty searches Rita’s purse for a huge sum of money and a unique blue key to assist the woman to remember her identity.

At Winkie’s Diner, a man tells another about a nightmare in which he saw a terrifying apparition lurking behind the counter. When they go to investigate, the apparition appears, terrifying the man who experienced the nightmare.

In another scene, mobsters seize filmmaker Adam Kesher’s film and demand that he cast Camilla Rhodes, an unknown actress, as the lead. When Adam refuses, he returns home to find his wife Lorraine having an affair with another man.

When the mobsters take away his line of credit, Adam sets up a meeting with a strange cowboy, who advises him to cast Camilla for his own good. Meanwhile, a bungling hitman tries to take a phone book and kills three people in the process.

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