Wild at Heart

Wild at Heart ★★★½

Oh, so that's what to happened to Megadeth during the Rust in Peace era? They went from one of the big four of thrash metal to playing rundown clubs where Nicolas Cage wails like a maniac in a snake skin suit. I always fill in the holes from my David Lynch knowledge at the end of the year. For 2019, it's the film that landed him the Palme d'Or during his break from Twin Peaks. I'll be honest - Wild at Heart is not one of my favourite David Lynch movies. It's a hard film to get a firm grasp on: with the previous Lynch movies I've seen, I can recall my first reactions crystal clear.

The Elephant Man quickly became my favourite movie of all time. Inland Empire filled me with existential dread. Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, and Fire Walk with Me had me grinning like a little sadist. As for Wild at Heart? Err, I think it's the film that gave me tonal whiplash the most? Part of the problem with Wild at Heart is that the film can't decide what it wants to be. The premise is straightforward, perhaps on the undercooked side with Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern as lovers on the run from Lula's maniacal mother. Then the film quickly gets convoluted with one too many flashbacks, and a ridiculous conga-line of Diane Ladd's Marietta hiring a killer, to hire another killer, to hire another killer.

The more I think about Wild at Heart's plotting, the more I think this type of story is more suited towards a Coen Brothers' farce rather than something that is Lynchian. As a consequence, I found myself drifting off more times than I would have liked. I tell you what I did like though: I liked Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern as Sailor and Lula. I liked the perversity of the on-the-nose, Wizard of Oz references. I loved the third act where Willem Dafoe pops up as a demented, straight version of John Waters. I don't think you can accuse Lynch of dullness here: Wild at Heart is hyper-aggressive with a hard-hitting Badalamenti speed metal score, and Frederick Elmes' sun-soaked and nostalgic cinematography.

So there are plenty of strengths that Wild at Heart has. The trouble is there needed to be someone to overlook all these good ideas and make a coherent film out of it. And some areas get away with it decently enough: the other half, unfortunately, does not.

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