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Recipient of the prestigious Palme d'Or award at Cannes, David Lynch's "Wild at Heart" is an amazingly brilliant spectacle for the senses. Bold splashes of deep red, curiously staged musical numbers (Nicolas Cage does his own singing and he's great!), and the continuous references to "The Wizard of Oz" help create a surreal and dreamlike texture to the narrative. The story in brief: Sailor and Lula (excellent performances from both Nicolas Cage & Laura Dern); two broken souls passionately in love, flee the vengeful wrath of Lula's mother Marietta, who for reasons of her own will stop at nothing to ensure the lovers are kept apart. Diane Ladd practically steals the show in her brave portrayal of Lula's psychopathic mother Marietta. Gut wrenchingly violent in places, hopelessly romantic in others; Lynch has crafted an adult fairy tale worthy of multiple viewings. Recommended to those who enjoy and appreciate abstract methods of film-making a definite 10/10!
Outrageous! This is another sick-but-fascinating David Lynch film,
maybe his sickest, although I've never seen Eraserhead.
The most interesting feature of this strange movie, I think, was the weird characters, one after the other. Make that ultra-weird.....and the strangest of them all is "Bobby Peru," played by Willem Dafoe. In all my years of movie watching, I think "Bobby Peru" still has to rank in the top five of the creepiest characters. He is so outrageously disgusting and perverted you just have to laugh out loud at him.
In fact, "outrageous" might be the best word to describe this film, characters and all.
This wild and entertaining film sometimes makes me shake my head in disgust that I own it, and at other times makes me just laugh out loud at the absurdity of it. You really have to have a dark sense of humor to appreciate much of it. I do, to some degree....enough to keep viewing this.
Nicholas Cage is particularly fun to watch and provides most of the laughs. Laura Dern is also convincing as a trailer-trash-type. If you want a clue on why Dern would play such a sleazy role, check out her real-life mom in this film, Diane Ladd, who plays her mother in the movie. It looks like Mom passed on her wholesome values.
As with some other Lynch films, the music is outstanding: just a great soundtrack. I bought the CD to this a year after first seeing the movie, and I've always enjoyed it. And, another Lynch trait that certainly is here is the excellent visual style, which is enhanced by the widescreen DVD.
So, if you are looking for an outrageous two hours and you aren't easily shocked or offended, this would be a film to consider.
Wild at Heart begins with an arresting scene of bloody violence by one of the two lead characters, Sailor Ripley, and this immediately grabs our attention. After this he hooks up with his lover, Lula, who he fiercely protects, and goes on a bizarre road trip into the deep south of the states, while avoiding Lula's mother, played with passion by a deservedly Oscar-nominated Diane Ladd, who has an obsessive hatred for Sailor. They meet an assortment of weird people, especially Bobby Peru, and also Perdita Durango, who has appeared recently in a film with her name as the title, also written by Barry Gifford. It is classic David Lynch, with a homage type theme to the Wizard of Oz. It has the sensuality and eroticism later seen in Lost Highway, the violence and gore, the head sequence after the bank robbery being graphic, and a general uneasiness throughout. But it is a darkly humorous and transfixing piece.
The most creative and controversial director in cinema is back with a road-movie! Wild at Heart is one rough roller coaster ride and a typical Lynch-cocktail of violence, sex and of course bizarre characters. I challenge you to find one personality in this film that could be referred to as a normal human being'. As usually, Lynch introduces a bunch of wicked individuals in his film who're all messed up in the head pretty bad. Yet, I feel like Wild at Heart might be Lynch's most accessible film (outside The Elephant Man and The Straight Story). The structure remains chronological and quite easy to follow. Unlike the previous Blue Velvet, I feel like the plot and development of Wild at Heart is a bit inferior to the wonderful photography. The greatest aspects in the screenplay are in fact the delicious side-chapters that are told without absolute necessity. Like the story about Lula's cousin Dell (Crispin Glover), the torture of Harry Dean Stanton's character and the nasty and disturbing images of a car accident the protagonists come across. These are the little sequences that truly prove Lynch's talent as a storyteller. Overall and simply put: this movie is COOL! It's a joy to watch and you really hate to love some of the offensive characters. Willem Dafoe takes the cake as Bobby Peru. His portrayal is a neat follow-up to Blue Velvet's Frank Booth. Peru is a filthy and despicable pervert with itchy-trigger-fingers! It's a damn shame he hasn't got any more screen time. Wild at Heart surely isn't the greatest masterpiece out there, but you should love it for what it is: an absurd and entertaining adventure with a couple of thought-provoking values and an extraordinary love-lesson.
This is one of my favorite David Lynch films. It is also one of the
more transparent, easy to understand Lynch films, although that's not
the reason why it's one of my favorites. But that fact also makes Wild
at Heart a good candidate for introducing someone to Lynch.
On the other hand, although it's more transparent and linear on a surface level, I'm still not sure I've figured out the multilayered, bizarre subtexts and symbolism that lie deep beneath the surface--even though I've seen it a few times now. Assuming that there is indeed something to figure out. To an extent, it seems like maybe the hint of something "deeper" is in this case more of a red herring. This is one of Lynch's funnier films, albeit very macabre humor. It contains references to all of Lynch's most common "content quirks"including sequined ingénues singing jazz, manipulative housewife types, shots of asphalt speeding by, minor characters with freaky speech "impediments", severed body parts, and on and on--but it's almost as if he's making fun of himself. Combine that with excellent performances (including a hilarious bit part for Crispin Glover, one of my favorite actors/personalities), a sublimely incongruous score, and a retro, gripping, violent road trip saga cum romance that presages both Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers (1994) and just about all of Quentin Tarantino's career, and you've got quite a film.
Wild at Heart, based on a novel by Barry Gifford, is the tale of Sailor (Nicolas Cage) and Lula (Laura Dern), a doe-eyed, "classy white trash" couple. As the film starts--and what a start it is--someone tries to stab Sailor to death as he's exiting a theater. Sailor will have none of it, and Lynch begins the film on an exhilarating, brutally violent note--this is not a film for the faint of heart. To complicate matters and set up the primary conflict, we learn even before the attempted stabbing that the hit man was sent by Lula's mother, Marietta Fortune (Diane Ladd), who claimed that Sailor tried to seduce her in the bathroom (this isn't quite true, as we learn in detail later).
There isn't a character in the film who isn't involved with some shady business, either presently or in the past. Sailor and Marietta's tensions stem from many years ago, when Lula was just a girl (she's supposedly quite a bit younger than Sailor). The events of the film's opening result in Sailor being imprisoned. Lula dutifully waits for his release, much to the consternation of her mom. The basic gist of the film is disarmingly simple--Sailor and Lula are headed across the country, with an eventual goal of California, as Marietta tries to arrange for Sailor to be put away for good. There are many finely realized subplots and detailed tangents, but that's the crux of the plot on the surface.
In addition to his typical hyperreal/surreal weirdness, Lynch concocts a very improbable stew of influences that work together beautifully. Lula has something of an obsession with The Wizard of Oz (1939). She's haunted by visions of the wicked witch (including the "evil cackle"), and she sees the road trip as a veritable journey to the Emerald City. Lynch works in a lot of subtle references to The Wizard of Oz with other characters, too. Sailor is something like lounge version of Elvis reincarnated as a gangster flunky, with even better karate moves to match. Yet the two are huge heavy metal fans, especially of a band named "Powermad", whose music exquisitely punctuates many sequences, including some sublime dance scenes. In the first half, important scenes are set in New Orleans, with the familiar unsettling undertone that that locale often has in films--you can just smell the voodoo, sex, drugs and death bubbling beneath the skin of the city. Later scenes are set in the desolate, desert prairie country of Texas, which turns out to be even more unsettling (even though I really find such places refreshing and relaxing). There are other kinds of symbolic, stylistic and literal references worked into the film, such as the constant fire motif, which Lynch shoots beautifully, but the above is to just give you an idea of the stew.
It all seems like it should add up to some subtextual grand narrative, and maybe it does, but I haven't quite figured out what it all means yet. But it doesn't matter. The stylistic flourishes are ingenious superficially, too, and maybe Lynch _is_ just poking fun at being Lynch. Here, perhaps more than in any other work, he has found the perfect balance between the soap-operatic and the utterly bizarre--the filmic equivalent to author Harry Crews' best work.
Tarantino doesn't tend to have pithy subtexts in his films, either, but they're no worse the wear for that, and when Wild at Heart takes a turn into typical Tarantino territory, Lynch is just as captivating, gritty and groovy, plus he's doing it before Tarantino himself. At the same time, Lynch manages to maintain a parallel lush, erotic romance between Sailor and Lula--Dern is incredibly sexy/sensuous here. This material works as well, and supplies what just may be the message of the film after all--that love can (eventually) conquer all, even the stuff that's "wild at heart and weird on top".
Wild at Heart is probably the most conventional David Lynch film I've
seen. That being said, it still remains very far from mainstream. Wild
at Heart revolved around a young couple, played to perfection by
Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern. Fast paced, mostly ridiculous, and pretty
unrealistic, Wild at Heart is far from perfect, but a very fun film to
The premise is strange, but intriguing. A young couple is separated when the guy, an Elvis fanatic named Sailor (Nicolas Cage), goes to prison for manslaughter after defending himself against a man who threatened him. When he gets out, he is desperate to get Lula (Laura Dern), the girl he loves, back again. Lula is more than willing to pick up the relationship, but if her mother has anything to do with it, she won't have a chance. Being young and in love, the girl rebels. However, her mother's desperation leads her to contact a hit-man she is in knows and the young couple is forced to run away. The two lovebirds head to California and encounter all sorts of crazy situations along the way.
Arguably the best thing about Wild at Heart is its great cast. Nicolas Cage is in his prime here and the role is, somewhat, reminiscent of the "repeat offender" he played in Raising Arizona. Nicolas Cage was great in his pre-action-hero movies. Laura Dern is equally excellent. I'd never understood the reason for her popularity in sexy roles. It's effective here, though, and she embodies sweet yet trashy Lula wonderfully. Supporting performances by Willem Defoe, Harry Dean Stanton, and Diane Ladd also provide liveliness that enhances the film.
Although it deals with such serious subjects as murder, incest, and general family dysfunction, Wild at Heart is anything but serious. The film is chocked full of amusing moments and over the top clichés. The best example of this is the presence of a rich, older crime boss with a penchant for having young preferably naked young girls surrounding him at all times he's present. There are a few moments when the style gets repetitive and the characters do something worthy of much eye-rolling. Despite that, this movie is never boring and fairly unpredictable.
Wild at Heart is a fun adventure to hitch a ride on. It is full of energy and snappy dialogue. Unlike most Lynch films, it is very linear and straight forward. The acting is excellent and the characters are strangely likable. Wild at Heart feels a little long and drags in a few places toward the end, but this barely hinders the film in its entirety. This is an amusing film, one that would make a good introduction to Lynch for those unfamiliar. For the rest of us, it's simply an enjoyable piece of film-making.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When Lynch wants to say something he takes his time, no doubt about it.
Sometimes he takes his time even when he doesn't have much to say.
Isabella Rosselini in torn stocking, shabby wig, and red shoes is swaying gently to some music when Willem DaFoe crashes in and gives her a vigorous smooch. That's the beginning and the end of the scene. Another example? Cage and Laura Dern are having an argument just after he's let out of the slams. She's nervous and upset because she hasn't seen him in six years. He looks at her intently and tells her it's a mistake for them to get back together again. There is about a twenty-second closeup of Dern's magnificent blue eyes. They don't drip with tears. They don't even blink. They stare directly into the camera. Why? Like you, I'd have to guess. (I'd guess that her unblinking, unteary stare is meant to tell us that she sees things pretty clearly despite being shaken. That's pretty banal, I know, but my mind is open to other interpretations.)
I don't mean to sound as if I'm bashing the movie because that's not what I mean to do. Let's linger a little over a much later scene. It takes place in the middle of a city street, El Paso I would guess, but it's one of those industrial-area streets that are deserted on weekends. It's a wide sun-baked silent street cluttered with drunken-looking telephone poles and lined with one-story factories and warehouses, and there is a city skyline way in the distant, cerulean with urban haze. And Cage is walking alone through this bleak and ominous landscape. But it's not only the visuals that makes this scene outstanding. A handful of viperous dudes wearing black fall in behind Cage's figure and another group of Thugees finally blocks his way in mid-street. The music comes to an abrupt halt. Nobody says anything. The atmosphere throbs with threat. Cage sets down his suitcase, takes the time to deliberately light a cigarette, looks around him, and asks, "Okay -- what do you faggots want?" What they want is to beat the hell out of him, and they get their wish. The unconscious Cage has a vision of The Nice Witch of the West (don't ask) and when he recovers he finds he's still surrounded by these sadistic brutes who ask him if he's had enough. He struggles to his feet, gingerly feeling his "broken" rubber nose, and says, "Yes, I've had enough. Furthermore, I'd like to apologize for referring to you dudes earlier as homosexuals. You've taught me a lesson." Then he runs away ecstatically. How many other movies can boast ten minutes worth of film like that?
Now, I can see where a lot of ten-year-olds (or ten-year-old minds) might be bored with this film. It's long. There isn't an abundance of violence, although DaFoe does get his head blown off by twin blasts from a shotgun. I mean, quite literally, his head is blown completely off. It bounces off the wall like a football and lands with a loud splat on the pavement. So maybe there's a little hope for the horror afficionados after all, but not much, when you get right down to it.
The movie is punctuated with violence and, even more, with oddities, but mostly it moves languorously. Cage and Dern thrum through the Texas night in a shiny old convertible whose radio plays nothing but news like, "A man won his appeal today for dismissal of charges that he ate his own child." Well -- not that, but equally weird. One relative of Dern gets his kicks by putting a cockroach directly on his nether orifice. Willem DaFoe should definitely sue his dental surgeon. He thrusts his mouth close to Dern's at one point, urging her to say something filthy to him and he'll let her go, and his mouth is like a limpet's, his lips a disgusting circle of membrane filled with hideous teeth.
I wouldn't argue that "Wild at Heart" should be put into a time capsule, but it's not a movie that's easy to forget. David Lynch may or may not be a hot commercial property but he's one of the most original directors working today.
This movie is along my TOP-10 favorites. It's a shocking experience and a proof of what David Lynch's movies mean to those of us who enjoy shocking movies. It's a love story told in a different way. Great acting, great music (from Classic to Speed Metal), erotism, suspense, this film has everything you could ever want in a good movie. Two thumbs up!
"Wild at Heart" is one deranged and twisted road trip as only David Lynch could bring you. It's so dark but at times funny too. Lula (Laura Dern) and Sailor (Nicholas Cage)are in love, but Lula's mother played by Laura Dern's real life mother Diane Ladd is evil. She doesn't want to see them together. Because of a murder, Sailor is finally released from prison. Lula's mom hires people to kill sailor. So Lula and Sailor go on a crazy road trip with dark and fellini like characters. William Defoe is unforgettable as the creepy and perverted Bobby Peru. The film almost received an X/NC-17 rating. It's easy to see why, it has lots of disturbing sex and violence. But than again that's a David Lynch trademark. This film is probably on my list of favorite road trip movies, next to Godard's "Weekend" (1967), "Thelma & Louise" and "Natural Born Killers". Both Nicholas Cage and Laura Dern give amazing performances. Dern's character Lula is the complete opposite of Sandy in "Blue Velvet", cause she's so wild and sexual. But Lula still has a naive child like charm. It seems that actor Nicholas Cage was born to play Sailor, a charming Elvis like ex convict who wants to change his ways. Also check out Berry Gifford's sequel to Wild at Heart, "Perdita Durango" (aka. dance with the devil) These films are both Wild at Heart and weird on Top!
A real stimulatingly offbeat exhibition from Lynch is the dark and wild
backdrop of a romantically engaged traveling pair: "Sailor" who is on parole
after committing a brutal murder, and "Lula" whose mother demands her to
return from a spoiled trip to Texas with help from a detective. It's a
twisted, artsy journey that is often repulsive and long to boot (and
certainly not for the squeamish!), but fares inventive at a certain degree
and boasts some of the strongest performances ever worked on a Lynch film,
perhaps even in 1990. Cage's concert act and the magically rendered
semi-ending are two classic acclaims put together in this moving cinematic
RATING: * * *
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