242 user 131 critic

Wild at Heart (1990)

1:50 | Trailer
Young lovers Sailor and Lula run from the variety of weirdos that Lula's mom has hired to kill Sailor.


David Lynch


Barry Gifford (novel), David Lynch (screenplay)
2,300 ( 17)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Nicolas Cage ... Sailor Ripley
Laura Dern ... Lula
Willem Dafoe ... Bobby Peru
J.E. Freeman ... Santos
Crispin Glover ... Dell
Diane Ladd ... Marietta Fortune
Calvin Lockhart ... Reggie
Isabella Rossellini ... Perdita
Harry Dean Stanton ... Johnnie Farragut
Grace Zabriskie ... Juana
Sherilyn Fenn ... Girl in Accident
Marvin Kaplan ... Uncle Pooch
William Morgan Sheppard ... Mr. Reindeer (as W. Morgan Sheppard)
David Patrick Kelly ... Dropshadow
Freddie Jones ... George Kovich


Lula's psychopathic mother goes crazy at the thought of Lula being with Sailor, who just got free from jail. Ignoring Sailor's probation, they set out for California. However their mother hires a killer to hunt down Sailor. Unaware of this, the two enjoy their journey and themselves being together... until they witness a young woman dying after a car accident - a bad omen. Written by Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A film by David Lynch See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The MPAA told Lynch that the version of Wild at Heart screened at Cannes would receive an X rating in North America unless cuts were made, as the NC-17 was not in effect in 1990, at the time of the film's release. The director was contractually obligated to deliver an R-rated film. He made one change in the scene where a character shoots his own head off with a shotgun. Gun smoke was added to tone down the blood and hide the removal of the character's head from his body. Foreign prints were not affected. The Region 1 DVD and Blu-rays contain the toned-down version of the shotgun scene. See more »


When they are in bed - he has a shirt on in one shot, the other one it's off, and then on again. See more »


Lula: That Johnnie is one clever detective. You know how clever?
Sailor: How clever?
Lula: He told me once he could find an honest man in Washington.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The ending credits play over footage of Sailor singing "Love Me Tender" to Lula, rather than a black screen. See more »

Alternate Versions

The original Australian theatrical release of "Wild at Heart" started with a short scene in which Nicholas Cage is seen having sex with Laura Dern's mother in a toilet cubicle. This scene has been excised from the Region 4 DVD release and instead the film starts with an unsubstantiated accusation of this, just before the fight. See more »


Performed and Arranged by Shony Alex Braun
Courtesy of Impromtu Records
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User Reviews

So violent, bizarre and mysterious that it actually works.
9 April 1999 | by Stu-5See all my reviews

The opening scene to Wild At Heart features Nick Cage ferociously beating an assassin to death. Heads are rammed against walls, fists are lunged into guts and what results is a brutally bashed corpse with brains pouring out of it's head. This kind of high-octane violence which is fueled by maniacal characters and deranged intervals creates a fantastic effect. One which has so much impact and so much individuality to it's merit that it turns out to be one hell of a movie.

This is simultaneously a thrilling road movie and a revelation of small town, American country folk. The two protagonists, Sailor and Lula (Nicholas Cage and Laura Dern) are so in love with each other that they'd go to extreme lengths not to be separated. Their separation is exactly what Lula's crazed mother wants, as she believes that Sailor is a cold-blooded murderer who is putting her daughter in danger. Her anger is so fierce that the viewer becomes slightly scared by her: her manic fits of rage where she plasters herself in red lipstick; her bizarre paroxysms fueled by numerous cocktails. All of her slight idiosyncrasies and mannerisms well up to create a very intimidating mother. She sends out a hitman to dispose of Sailor and bring back her daughter, but the lovely couple are on the run from her and the law.

Sailor and Lula meet up with some very strange characters whilst travelling far away from Lula's mother. The eccentricities of 'Tuna Town' in Texas, the insane car accident victim and Lula's nutcase cousin who believes that "the man with the black glove is coming to get him". It's all rudimentary David Lynch fare. He has mastered the art of contemporary film making: a clever blend of black-comedy, violence and fantasy.

The viewer builds an empathy for the two main characters, as it would be a terrible thing to see their undying love for each other shattered. The other characters in the movie all seem to want to destroy that love. Sailor's character, although violent and hardbitten, seems the most normal of the lot. It takes a sane man to make sense of all the insane folk in America's underbelly. He puts up with a lot from everyone, but all he really wants to do is escape from it all with Lula.

After all, who can love in a world that's wild at heart?

Nine out of ten.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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English | Spanish

Release Date:

17 August 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

David Lynch's Wild at Heart See more »


Box Office


$9,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,913,764, 19 August 1990

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby SR



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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