After Much Thought - My Synopsis

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Ted B
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After Much Thought - My Synopsis

Postby Ted B » 28 May 2012

What makes this film great is that it needs to be seen several times before the wealth of detail crystallizes. Having read some commentaries, I feel many tend to over analyze the details. I agree with some ideas and observations, and not so much with others.

Most of the film is just a fantasy that Diane dreams to temporarily escape from the dreadful reality she’s created. The dream consists of characters and events, both real and imaginary, that Diane’s subconscious assembles to recollect and recreate the story in a manner that makes excuses for Diane’s real-life failures and reverses the roles of dependency between Diane and Camilla. Throughout the dream, Diane is haunted by her conscience, which periodically pokes its ugly head into the harmonious fabric uninvited. Outside of this fantasy, Diane is plagued by obsession, depression, dependency, regret, and ultimately, insanity.

In chronological order as I see it …

- The jitterbug and imagery of Diane in the spotlight depicts Diane’s brief taste of success and the delusions of grandeur that spawned when Diane was an innocent aspiring actress.

- The old couple may or may not have been real people (at some point prior to the timeline of the film), but here they serve as non-threatening, grandparent-like cheerleaders that exist only in Diane’s conscience. Just like the traditional role of grandparents, they look past one’s faults and provide encouragement. They are the little voices that cheered Diane on in the beginning – much like imaginary friends, or imaginary family (that Diane maybe never had).

- Camilla is dead by this point.

- The view of the pillow is through the eyes of a dazed, depressed Diane. With agonizing sobbing, her exhausted head hits the pillow and the vivid dream begins.

- The imaginary car accident and botched hit by imaginary mobsters are but a fantasy, reconstructed from Diane’s real car ride to the fateful dinner party.

- The two detectives at the scene reflect ‘those two detectives’ that Diane knows are seeking her in reality, ostensibly in connection with Camilla’s murder.

- Aunt Ruth has gone acting in Canada (a euphemism for being deceased), and may reflect that the only real mother figure Diane had is gone.

- Coco is recast in Diane’s dream as the watchful chaperone that will see her through her path to stardom – a wishful departure from reality that Coco is the mother of a successful director who offers Diane nothing but a brief moment of pity at the dinner party.

- The vignette between Dan and his shrink serves only to introduce the horrible ‘boogieman’ behind the wall, who is akin to the grim reaper – an executioner of sorts that resides in Diane’s subconscious mind.

- The imaginary phone calls involving mobsters, hit man, and the red lamp (Diane’s phone) are all elements of Diane’s botched hit fantasy.

- Rita’s amnesia and dependence upon Betty for shelter and protection represent role reversals. In reality, Diane is dependent upon Camilla for affection and survival.

- The imaginary meeting between the mobsters and Adam Kesher serves as an elaborate excuse that explains Camilla’s real world success and Diane’s failure. Diane’s subconscious reasons that the cast selection processed is rigged by the controlling mob, leaving directors little choice in the matter but to choose Camilla over her.

- The vignette with the hit man (now with one brown eye), car accident story, and bungled shooting plays into Diane’s fantasy that the hit on Camilla was botched. Ed’s ‘famous black book’ may be a reference to something outside the context of the film, but is otherwise just another of several artifacts from Winkie’s that end up in Diane’s fantastic dream.

- The blue box represents the pathway back to the cruel reality.

- The vignette between the hit man and prostitute play into Diane’s fantasy that the hit on 'Rita' was botched, and Rita needs Betty’s protection.

- The revelation of Diane Selwyn as a name of interest in Rita’s mind, and the fact that her outgoing message is not Rita’s voice is a bit of reality creeping its way into the fantasy.

- The sequence of Adam’s cheating wife, mobsters, dirtbag motel and such are all elements of Diane’s imagination that explains events real (Adam’s failed marriage) and imaginary (the mob).

- Louise Bonner’s appearance is a bit of reality that threatens Diane’s dream.

- The cowboy is a fictitious representation of the voice of Diane's conscience. In this case, the blurb about do good see me once, do bad see me twice applies to Diane (who indeed does see him twice).

- The practice acting scene (which Rita performs poorly) is telling. The context of the part subtly reveals what’s happened in reality, and naturally Diane fantasizes herself as the superior actress.

- Coco’s unexpected appearance at Betty’s door is another poke at the fragile fantasy by Diane’s conscience.

- Betty nails the audition for Bob Brooker’s Sylvia North Story, which of course isn’t what really transpired. Could the ‘other girl with black hair’ Woody mentions be Camilla? You bet.

- The hot shot casting agent is knocked out by Betty's performance. When Adam’s eyes meet Betty’s, it’s suggests that he wants Betty for the part, but the mob blocks that idea. In Diane’s dream, this film is also entitled, “The Sylvia North Story”. They probably all seem like "The Sylvia North Story" repeating itself where Diane is concerned.

- The blonde Camilla is a juxtaposition of Camilla and Diane, and is a fictitious representation of betrayal.

- The covert journey to Diane Selwyn’s apartment is a haunting harbinger of reality that contains more reality than fiction. The fantasy begins to erode.

- Rita’s desire to emulate Betty, the sexual encounter – all the climax of Diane’s fantasy.

- Rita’s nightmare, the trip to Silencio, Betty’s spasms, and the context of the tragic song, “Llorando” are all fitting where the fantasy unravels. The opening of the box unlocks the inevitable reality.

- The fictitious cowboy announces the end of the dream (wake up pretty girl), but it is actually Diane being rudely awakened by the persistent knock at the door.

- The brief daydream that Camilla has come back is exactly that.

- The scene of Diane and Camilla on the couch is a recollection of what happened prior to the dinner party.

- Diane’s recollection of Adam coaching of the scene with Camilla was real, and signaled the beginning of the end of the relationship between the two women.

- The heated exchange at Diane’s door and Diane’s inability to climax take place after the dinner party. The former was the last ever meeting between Diane and Camilla.

- The long, winding road that is Mullholland drive is a metaphor for the road to success in Hollywood, as is a shortcut (to the top) that Camilla reveals to Diane.

- As Diane reveals her life story, note the “SOS” on her coffee cup.

- Camilla remarks that she never went to Casablanca with Luigi (in Spanish). The mention of this Luigi character, and the subtle suggestion that he may have influenced Camilla’s success, are noted by Diane’s subconscious mind and reassembled in the dream as a mobster who is responsible for Camilla's rise to stardom.

- The appearance of Luigi (the mob), the cowboy (voice of conscience), and blonde Camilla (betrayal) at the dinner party are all brief daydreams, which are interrupted by the clanking glass and nuptials announcement – the effective end of the relationship between Diane and Camilla, which leaves Diane feeling both betrayed and abandoned.

- The money for the hit man probably represents all that Diane has. And of course, the death of Camilla represents the end of what little professional assistance Diane had.

- It’s nighttime, and note that Diane is sitting in the same place since morning, same robe, same coffee cup, having spent the entire day reliving the past. She is paralyzed with guilt and regret. The detectives come knocking at the door, and her own virtual companions (old couple) reappear, but are now turned against her. Finding herself isolated, without a future, consumed by depression, and tormented by guilt, she escapes reality this time via suicide. The ‘executioner’ has served his purpose and appears briefly for the last time.

- The final scene displays Diane's last seconds as a return to fantasy of Betty and Rita together. The blue haired lady announces the end of the tragedy fittingly.

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