The chronological timeline of the story is not that hard to figure out:
(01.) First, Diane wins the jitterbug competition in Canada, where she's crowned and cheered for by two old people (her parents). This is some time before any other scenes in the movie.
(02.) Camilla and her director/lover Adam Kesher kiss in the car, making Diane witness the scene.
(03.) Camilla and Diane are on the couch. Camilla says they should break up and Diane puts the pieces of what she's seen together and asks, "It's him, isn't it?"
(04.) Camilla calls Diane in an attempt to reconcile with her and tells her to get into the car that's come for her. Diane comes to Adam's party where he announces his engagement to Camilla.
(05.) Diane talks to the hitman at Winkie's and he agrees to murder Camilla.
(06.) Diane returns home, overcome with guilt and frustration, and falls asleep on her untidy bed.
(07.) She has a long dream (the first two hours of the movie). The prime thing to notice here is Diane's selfish wish-fulfillment- she has her lover back with her, tender and loving, and amnesiac to boot, allowing Diane/Betty to do what she pleases with her. Diane gets her revenge by humiliating Adam in her dream- he's deceived by his wife, knocked over by her lover, stepped on by both of them, etc, etc. The last hallucination Diane has is of the Cowboy who appears in her bedroom to wake her up.
(08.) Diane's neighbor/ex-lover wakes her up.
However, it has now been several months since I've had a chance to see the film, and I think its strengths and weaknesses have settled fairly well in my memory. This film is quite simply a triumph of expert filmmaking. I will admit that David Lynch's record was spotty up to this point. I found "Blue Velvet" captivating but thought "Eraserhead" was too deliberately misanthropic and offputting. But Lynch has finally found the right idiom and plot for his unique style of filmmaking.
The first strength you notice about this film is that it is positively dripping with atmosphere. Lynch's strong use of color drenches every frame in a wash of film-noir paranoia; it is obvious just from looking at the screen that something is not right here. Fabrics and wallpaper are just never THAT bright; foliage and jewelry leaps off the screen with its vividness. The film's second strength is incredible acting, particularly from Naomi Watts. Her failure to receive an Academy Award for this performance was the beginning of my current distrust for the Academy's choices. Watts is here required to play two different roles, one vastly different from the other. It is a feat she accomplishes flawlessly, shifting from one character to the other so completely that at first I didn't realize it was the same actress playing both roles. Laura Harring lends capable support, her face and acting style a throwback to a thirties melodrama. It is only appropriate that she chooses her character's name from a Rita Hayworth poster.Read more ›