Even if you didn’t see it coming, you saw it coming.
That is to say that the whole movie is leading to it. It's an inevitably --even if one suspects that Lynch didn't always know it was going there (it being a longform proposal, a TV series, in origin). The greatest thing about Mulholland Dr remains its flexibility: so many things to so many people; so many readings seem correct. Today I’ve decided that the entire movie is about the kiss between Betty and Rita. The great audition sequence is mere foreplay.
Consider “Bob”’s instructions to Betty in the audition.
It’s not a contest. The two of them...with themselves. So don’t play it for real until it gets real.In the literal sense this advice is about the scene Betty is about to play with a lecherous older actor. But wouldn’t that speech, superimposed over Betty & Rita’s upcoming consummation make just as much sense? Or more. "The two of them... with themselves" is strange phrasing. More suitable in the context of mutable cris-crossing actress identities? Anyway, Betty shifts into a new mode of expression in the audition: Watts has gone from stylized wide eyed innocent to carnal being. The audition kiss, which preceeds the sapphic kiss is like a funhouse mirror warm-up.
In both sequences Watts' lips graze over her scene partners as she fills up with desire. In the first, she follows the kiss with threats and hateful rhetoric "Get out before I kill you" and "I hate you... I hate us both". Once with Rita she bookends the kiss with incantations of love. "I want to with you. I'm in love with you. I'm in love with youuuuuu"
Because it's a David Lynch film it's never as simple as that (not that that mirrored construction wasn't complicated) so we have to work in humor, actual eroticism, and fear. The Betty/Rita pre-sex exchange is justifiably famous
Naive Betty: Have you ever done this before?She doesn't wait for an answer and the scene doesn't fade out with that smart sexy joke but instead dives straight into the erotic. Things in Mulholland Dr are about to get even stranger (Club Silencio coming right up) but isn't there something vaguely threatening about that declaration of love, as well? It's too emphatic, too early, too trancelike to be romantic or healthy. I adore this sequence and it's not just because it's hot to see two beauties in a naked liplock. It also seems to be Mulholland Dr. in a nutshell: a complex fusion of dream, nightmare, feminine mystique, Hollywood glamour, and unstable identities.
Amnesiac Rita: I don't know.
Quoth Louise, the crazy neighbor:
Something bad is happening. Someone is in danger.She might be talking about Betty/Diane. But when watching this film (or any Lynch effort for that matter) its easy to suppose that that 'someone' is actually the audience. When his mysterious movies envelop you in their dark magics, how exactly do you escape?
previously on "kissing" Jake Gyllenhaal