Bridges to cross or burn, in this short life of voluntary and forced transitions, we often have to make excruciating decisions as to whether we will lace up our walking shoes or light the torch.

In the stunning actress Naomi Watts role as a Manhattan Assistant District Attorney, Eleanor Whitman, the captivating elegant blonde beauty is presented with this difficult conundrum in the intense 2009 Film, The International.

The International is a German–American political thriller drama film directed by Tom Tykwer. article, columbia pictures photo credit

The film follows an Interpol agent and an American district attorney who investigate corruption within the IBBC, a fictional merchant bank based in Luxembourg. It serves organized crime and corrupt governments as a banker and as an arms broker. The bank’s ruthless managers assassinate potential threats including their own employees.

Watching this enthralling film, entertaining though it may be, you quietly say to yourself, please tell me that this is not true in real life.

Inspired by the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) scandal of the 1980s, the film’s script, written by Eric Warren Singer, raises concerns about how global finance affects international politics across the world.

Louis Salinger (Clive Owen), of Interpol, and Eleanor Whitman, an Assistant District Attorney from Manhattan, are investigating the International Bank of Business and Credit (IBBC), which funds activities such as money laundering, terrorism, arms trading, and the destabilization of governments.

There is a pivotal scene where Ms. Whitman has to accept there is just too much at stake for her and her family to pursue this investigation and that she should consider dropping out.

Was it a bridge that should be burned or crossed?

That’s what we love about a Naomi Watts project.

Many of her films are excruciating to watch, in a very rewarding way, but boy do they make you think.

And lust.

And salivate.

Naomi Ellen Watts is an English actress and film producer. article, photo via movie tube

She made her screen debut in the Australian drama film For Love Alone (1986) and then appeared in the Australian television series Hey Dad..! (1990), Brides of Christ (1991) and Home and Away (1991) and alongside Nicole Kidman and Thandie Newton in the coming-of-age comedy-drama film Flirting (1991).

After moving to America, Naomi appeared in films, including Tank Girl (1995), Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering (1996) and Dangerous Beauty (1998) and had the lead role in the television series Sleepwalkers (1997–1998).

After years as a struggling actress, Watts came to attention in David Lynch‘s psychological thriller Mulholland Drive (2001).

She would also captivate us in the terrifying 2002 horror film, The Ring.

Let’s talk about that Mulholland Drive phenomenon.

“Almost all the ideas we have about being a man or being a woman are so burdened with pain, anxiety, fear and self-doubt. For many of us, the confusion around this question is excruciating.”… Andrew Cohen

Mulholland Drive is a 2001 neo-noir mystery film written and directed by David Lynch and starring Justin Theroux, Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Ann Miller, and Robert Forster.

It tells the story of an aspiring actress named Betty Elms (Watts), newly arrived in Los Angeles, who meets and befriends an amnesiac woman (Harring) hiding in an apartment which belongs to Betty’s aunt. article, universal pictures photo credit

Originally conceived as a television pilot, a large portion of the film was shot in 1999 with Lynch’s plan to keep it open-ended for a potential series.

After viewing Lynch’s version, however, television executives rejected it.

Lynch then provided an ending to the project, making it a feature film.

The half-pilot, half-feature result, along with Lynch’s characteristic style, has left the general meaning of the film’s events open to interpretation.

The artistic director has declined to offer an explanation of his intentions for the narrative, leaving audiences, critics, and cast members to speculate on what transpires.

He gave the film the tagline “A love story in the city of dreams”.

Of course, it was far more than that.

It was mesmerizing but extremely excruciating to watch.

Our interpretation was that there were several stories within a story. They were numerous subliminal messages to be, well here we go again, excruciatingly retrieved from the subconscious and make no mistake about it, and there were bridges to cross and bridges to forever burn.

When this writer first watched the film, I knew this was one of those movies to initially just watch and enjoy all of the way through the first time and try not to think too much.

Just go by what you felt.

I felt confused, sad, mesmerized and desperate to understand its meaning because given how I felt, there must be a deeper message in this film.

Naomi Watts performance was so unique, depressing and thought provoking that I decided to pick a scene among the myriads as a focal point to analyze.

I suspect for all of us watching this emotionally sprawling masterpiece, we could pick different forks in the road to dissect.

Of all of the themes crisscrossing through this celluloid mind probe like a Tokyo intersection, for me I saw pretty blonde Betty as a young girl who had sacrificed much to make her way to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of becoming a movie star.

She falls in love with an elegant amnesiac, the exotic brunette Rita (Laura Elena Harring) and essentially has to make a life altering decision during an appointment with a major studio director after absolutely nailing an audition, to pursue helping Rita unravel her life mystery or stay, impress the director who is completely smitten by her and be propelled to stardom.

Here is the scene while it lasts.

She chose her friend over herself. article, universal pictures photo credit

We could also say that she chose love over her best interests.

Big mistake.

How often in life have you made a major decision to put the best interests of your important friend or lover over your own only to find out much later down the road that they would absolutely never do the same thing for you?

Very painful discovery but if you’ve done that like I have, we only have ourselves to blame.

Never do that twice.  

Pretty, sweet, naïve Betty finds this out the excruciatingly hard way as the roles eventually do become reversed and not only does Rita not give two cents about Betty, she actually seems to quietly revel in Betty’s massive fall while she becomes a huge star.

I have experienced this myself.

It can be diagnosed as a sign of low self-esteem.

In terms of self-sacrifice, your precious children are one thing, but as far as important friends or lovers, it is very okay to ethically put your needs and interests above theirs.

When your life falls apart, especially financially, you will most often find out that you have virtually no friends at all.

Worse, some, even those you’ve known for over 20 years, will be happy to see it happen.

The ominous and “there’s danger lurking around the corner” music score of Mulholland Drive really makes you feel it.

That’s what Naomi’s Betty taught me in a deeply sad, painful and emotional way.

Which now brings me to the Netflix original series, Gypsy.

Gypsy is a television drama series created by Lisa Rubin for Netflix. article, Netflix photo credit

As the story unfolds, therapist Jean Holloway (Naomi Watts) develops dangerous and intimate relationships with the people in her patients’ lives in this simmering psychological thriller.

Loved the opening soundtrack featuring the legendary Stevie Nicks singing Gypsy.

Gypsy” is a song by the rock group Fleetwood Mac. Stevie Nicks wrote the song originally c. 1979, and the earliest demo recordings were recorded in early 1980 with Tom Moncrieff for possible inclusion on her solo debut Bella Donna.

However, when Nicks’ friend Robin Anderson died of leukemia, the song took on a new significance and Nicks held it over for Fleetwood Mac. “Gypsy” was the second single release and second biggest hit from the Mirage album, following “Hold Me“, reaching a peak of number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks.

In 2017, Nicks re-recorded an acoustic version to serve as the theme song for the Netflix drama series Gypsy.

It works to perfection.

Since the penetrating and understated performance by Gabriel Byrne methodically drew me into his office in the series In Treatment, I have been more open to watching series featuring therapists where-as before in mixed company, at the mere mention of an anthology like that,  I would quietly turn my head and yawn.

As I began watching Gypsy, what a pleasant surprise, I didn’t know that it was going to star Naomi since she typically only performs in full length films.

I was instantly sold.

I suspect that you will intensely enjoy the series, complete with binge watching, but it is a complicated Rubik’s Cube of psychological scrambled eggs that you will need to deconstruct with friends at a coffee shop.

Naomi’s character Jean Holloway is one brilliant and complicated mess and even though she truly is the brightest bulb in the room, please don’t touch her with wet hands.

Her middle aged transition desires leads her to lie and manipulate everyone that she comes into contact with keeping you on the edge your seat waiting for the most recent lie to explode in front of her face.

But please give Gypsy and Nomi full credit.

Celestial, soothing and stimulating it is when a celluloid story teller speaks to you like you’re an informed adult.

An insider.

Some segments of yarn spinners would love to test market you and keep you in a simplified box with clearly drawn demographic lines so that you resemble your doppelganger in a Hallmark movie.

Those of us who have been around the block in search of sanity are fully aware that we are drawn with jagged lines meshed with complicated circles that make a complex life seem simple by comparison.

We hoped that a team of writers put this priceless Leonora Carrington slowly painted canvass together because if this is the product of mind solo, this person must have one complicated life filled with intrigue, intensity and on hold emotional land mines.

If only all essential vitamins tasted like ice cream and necessary medicines vital to our health tasted like high end chocolate.

Gorgeous Naomi transfuses the excruciating but necessary life subject matters into palatable ideas to be hungrily digested on a full or empty stomach.

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OPENING PHOTO article, Photo via Parade Magazine 

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