Directed by David Lynch, starring Naomi Watts, Laura Elena Harring and Justin Theroux.

After travelling down the simplest and sweetest of routes with 'The Straight Story', David Lynch is back in all his dark haunts with the ambient chills of 'Mulholland Drive'.

A beautiful woman (Harring) survives both a murder bid and a car crash simultaneously, walking free from the wreckage with just a head cut. She staggers to Mulholland Drive and sleeps rough, only to wake the next morning and discover that an apartment owner who lives nearby is leaving for the airport. She sneaks in, collapses and tries to escape the events of the previous night. As she sleeps, aspiring young actress Betty (Watts) arrives in Los Angeles from Canada. She travels to her aunt's apartment on Mulholland Drive and there discovers an unexpected roommate. The crash survivor is suffering from amnesia but borrows the name Rita off an old Hayworth poster in the bathroom and begins to form a strong bond with Betty.

Across town, young director Adam (Theroux) is being bossed around by shady film producers who want him to cast a particular starlet in his next feature. When he refuses, they shut the film down. Fearing for his safety and having split the same day with his cheating wife, Adam decides to make the movie with the actress concerned. But when Betty turns up at a casting session, the two share a moment which suggests they've met before.

Originally a TV pilot which was rejected by the network and then rescued by the backers of 'The Straight Story', 'Mulholland Drive' is a brave but ultimately baffling look at surface gloss and hidden terror in the LA dream factory. For 90-plus minutes, it's a quirky character study which dovetails exquisitely with a noir-ish mystery as Betty and Rita try to discover the latter's true identity and director Adam attempts to make sense of his life's downward spiral.

Long-time Lynch fans and even curious cinema goers will find much to delight in, from the offbeat humour mixed with manic scares to the hazy camerawork contrasting night and day and the superb performances from all three leads. But in the closing stages of the film Lynch - in a seemingly gleeful two fingers to both viewers and television bosses -ratchets up the insanity to hair pulling levels. Dual identities come to the fore, a blink-and-you'll-miss-him character has a much greater role than you thought and when he opens a box and tiny people jump out, you realise that Lynch is back to what he does best/worst: leaving an audience unsure of what they've actually seen and questioning their own abilities to make sense of the plot.

Go for the performances and the photography, but don't talk about the film over coffee afterwards - you could still be ordering triple espressos the next morning.

Harry Guerin