Mulholland Drive is a 2001 surrealist neo-noir mystery film written and directed by David Lynch and starring Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Justin Theroux, Ann Miller, Mark Pellegrino, and Robert Forster.
The American-French co-production was originally conceived as a television pilot, and a large portion of the film was shot in 1999 with Lynch's plan to keep it open-ended for a potential series. After viewing Lynch's cut, however, television executives rejected it. Lynch then provided an ending to the project, making it a feature film. The half-pilot, half-feature result, along with Lynch's characteristic surrealist style, has left the general meaning of the film's events open to interpretation. Lynch has declined to offer an explanation of his intentions for the narrative, leaving audiences, critics, and cast members to speculate on what transpires. He gave the film the tagline “A love story in the city of dreams”
Categorised as a psychological thriller, Mulholland Drive earned Lynch the Prix de la mise en scène (Best Director Award) at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival, sharing the prize with Joel Coen for The Man Who Wasn't There. Lynch also earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Director. The film boosted Watts's Hollywood profile considerably, and was the last feature film to star veteran Hollywood actress Ann Miller.
A dark-haired woman is the sole survivor of a car crash on Mulholland Drive, a winding road high in the Hollywood Hills. Injured and in shock, she makes her way down into Los Angeles and sneaks into an apartment. Later that morning, an aspiring actress named Betty Elms arrives at the apartment, which is normally occupied by her Aunt Ruth. Betty is startled to find the woman, who has amnesia and calls herself “Rita” after seeing a poster for the film Gilda starring Rita Hayworth. To help the woman remember her identity, Betty looks in Rita's purse, where she finds a large amount of money and an unusual blue key.