Film directed by David Lynch, creator of TV series Twin Peaks as well as the films Dune, Blue Velvet, The Elephant Man, Lost Highway, and The Straight Story, amongst others. Originally pitched as a TV series to ABC; upon its rejection, France based film company Studio Canal provided funding to complete shooting. Using material from the show's pilot, the film was completed and released on October 12, 2001.
The film is reminiscent of the Coen brothers' The Big Lebowski, as well as Lynch's own Blue Velvet and Lost Highway. This is my own personal favorite of Lynch's works, as it has been the most intellectually rewarding and stimulating.
Warning: Some spoilers below. Do not read ahead if you haven't seen the film.
My interpretation of the film is as follows : First off, Betty, Diana, and the blonde Camilla are all one character, representative of talent. Rita and the brunette Camilla (played by the same actress) represent beauty. The first half of the film is a day dream of Betty, who at first naively thinks that talent is all one needs to get by in Hollywood. Betty sees herself as both talented and beautiful. This combination is represented by the blonde Camilla (notice the audition scene, where Betty watches herself - this is comparable to the masturbation later in the film).
Rita, or the real Camilla, begins the film with amnesia. Both she and Diana believe that beauty and talent can merge. This results in the film's lesbian sex scenes, which at first appear quite inappropriate. Talent also tries to show beauty that she is dead, by leading her to the rotting corpse. After the "shift" in the film, the silencio scene, we actually find that it is talent who is dead. After the shift, the movie is similar to a very realistic nightmare
At this point, Diana is dichotomized into a success (the dinner party) and a failure (Diana as prostitute at Winkie's), both of which are equally plausible, and both of which yield only unhappiness. The love scenes get much more dramatic and surreal, until finally they end altogether. We find that, in Hollywood, beauty wins.
Talent tries to fight back, however. She hires the hitman/cowboy (who represents Diana's simplistic sense of justice - note that he works for the gansters, who guarantee the blonde Camilla/Betty a role) to kill beauty. The film at this point loops back chronologically to the beginning, where the gangsters attempt to kill Rita. The teenagers represent the mindless masses of pop culture, who allow beauty to forget that she has no talent and rescue her from death, setting the story in motion.
Finally, the sketchy parts. Winkie's represents the real, existentialistic (existentialism) version of Hollywood, and the two men who talk at the beginning are the totality of people. The hobo represents our new, modernist (modernism god/existentialistic force, and the blue box is entropy/time/age, something which destroys both talent and beauty.
All of these things make up a commentary on the facade which is Hollywood; an empty, untalented, pretty picture.
In retrospect, I have no idea why this movie reminded my of The Big Lebowski (I think the Cowboy and the humor). Just thought that I'd mention that.
My real reason for this little addition is to comment on the idea of the ending being a flashback. Not to say that I disagree with Edame or Walter, but rather I just wanted to point out that
in Lost Highway, one of Lynch's other surrealistic romps, the movie indeed is on a continual loop, in a way which can't be explained as a flashback.* Now, this is a different movie, and so this really shouldn't affect interpretations, but I just thought that I'd mention it.
* Perhaps this statement is too rash. Walter's interpretation of Lost Highway is that it too ends in not a flashback, but time travel. This is something I hadn't thought about (I don't have an interpretation of Lost Highway), and so will stop attempting to constrain other's interpretations so foolishly.