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Young, J. (2007). Identity as Subterfuge: A Kleinian and Winnicottian Reading of David Lynch's Mulholland Drive. Psychoanal. Rev., 94(6):903-925.

(2007). Psychoanalytic Review, 94(6):903-925

Identity as Subterfuge: A Kleinian and Winnicottian Reading of David Lynch's Mulholland Drive

Johnny Young

This above all: to thine own self be true

—William Shakespeare, Hamlet

I behave half as a traitor to my company, half as a traitor to myself. I'm a double traitor. And that state of double treason I consider not a defeat but a triumph. Because who knows how long I'll still be able to hold on to my two faces?

—Milan Kundera, Identity

The director David Lynch simultaneously stimulates and challenges viewers to look beyond the screen image. His films are an amalgam of introspection, metaphor, and uncertainty, blurring the line between fiction and reality. Lynch's unbridled, somewhat whimsical imagination has led to such lurid and daunting films as Eraserhead (1977), Blue Velvet (1986), and Lost Highway (1997). Yet he can be equally expressive with poignant subjects, as seen in The Elephant Man (1980) and The Straight Story (1999). Mulholland Drive (Lynch, 2001) is the quintessential example of the filmmaker's predilection for complexity. In it, the viewer is transported into a reality of the darkest order, where symbols are guideposts for anyone bold enough to suspend his or her disbelief.

The film is challenging and complex, as unsettling as it is fascinating. The first half follows an ostensibly linear trajectory detailing the plight of a woman who has suffered amnesia as a result of a horrific car accident and that of the young inge´nue who befriends her.

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