Wild at Heart
Continuing my self-education of the films of David Lynch, 1990′s Wild at Heart shot right to the front of my queue after watching Blue Velvet. The story is no less shocking, no less provocative, and certainly not any more tame than one would expect from Lynch.
Lula (Laura Dern) and Sailor (Nic Cage) are two reckless, young lovers, bent on spending their days doing the dirty and writhing around the dance floor at heavy metal rock concerts. Lula’s insane mother Marietta (the completely disturbing Diane Ladd) can’t stand the thought of her innocent darling cohorting with trash like Sailor (I wouldn’t want my kids hanging around Cage either). Don’t let this fool you into thinking Marietta doesn’t have her own skeletons in the closet. She may or may not have had a hand in the death of her husband, Lula’s father, and undoubtedly has sent several hitman to kill Sailor. After killing one of this hitmen, Sailor spends some time in prison. Lula waits for him until he gets out, and they start a long road trip across the states towards California, coming across all sorts of lunatics, and trying to stay one step ahead of the Marietta’s men that are hot on their trail.
Like Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart is one stylish piece. So much so, it could put even the best of Guy Ritchie’s movies to shame. Lynch’s use of colors are so impressionable, the imagery sticks with you long after the credits start rolling. Fire plays a central theme in the story and Lynch uses it to create strong motifs throughout (striking matches, lighting cigarettes, explosive car crashes, etc., etc.). Lynch takes pride in the absurdity of his films. Some of the scenes are so outrageous, you feel like you should be laughing, but social norms dictate you’re not allowed to find humor in such dark subject matter. Perhaps this was Lynch’s purpose: to completely confuse his audience emotionally.
Lynch adapted the novel by the same name by Barry Gifford, and while the plot occasionally slows to an uncomfortable pace, the eye candy makes up for it. Also different from Velvet (and I’m not sure to whom I should attribute this, Lynch or Gifford), the dialogue was rich, and interesting, similar to Tarantino’s style, who glories in the words of his film (truth be told, the plot shares a lot with 1993′s True Romance, which Tarantino penned). The confidence in his directing demands your attention, as if you already owe that much to him for being a genius. Lynch’s skill in creating dissonance in all things creates a vividly disturbing world; you’ll feel on edge the entire two hours. As far as I can tell, the single mistake Lynch made while filming, was casting Nic Cage in the leading role. Watching him try to keep up with Dern, and affecting a Elvis-esque accent and croon (and yes, he did do his own vocals) songs like ‘Love Me Tender,’ and ‘Love Me’ was almost insufferable. If you can get past this (believe me, it takes some effort) and the violence and sexuality (sometimes mixed together), you’ll once again be impressed with this visionary’s work.