Wild at Heart

Wild at Heart ★★★

Nicolas Cage's sustained Elvis impersonation is a lot of fun. And his snakeskin jacket (and his frequent speeches about it) is wonderful. It's little surprise to me that it was Nic's own jacket. Laura Dern is sexy and sweet and vulnerable and steely all at once. She's great. Willem Dafoe is one of the creepiest, slimiest, most unsettling film characters I've ever seen. This was one of the first things I saw him in and I think it caused my skin to crawl whenever I saw him for a long, long time. He's so...icky here. And any movie featuring Harry Dean Stanton in a major role is doing something right.

There are some riveting sequences to be sure, and moments that unsettled me in a way that only David Lynch generally can (especially the moment between Dafoe and Dern). But overall this just seems a bit too normal for David Lynch. It's your standard "lovers on the run" story. The last time I watched this I thought it was too weird just for the sake of weirdness and that it was too grotesque. I have come to appreciate Lynch a LOT more since the last time I saw this and ironically, this time, my problem is that it's not weird enough. This is the least engrossing Lynch film I have seen thus far, actually. Most of his films are mesmerizing, hypnotic. They have a deep, hallucinatory pull that I find intoxicating. "Wild at Heart", for whatever reason, just doesn't have that. It doesn't pull me in and transfix me. It doesn't weave a spell over me. It leaves me rather cold and uninvolved. The plot is too ordinary, perhaps. Or maybe the "Wizard of Oz" references are too forced and clunky. Whatever the reason it just feels like Lynch's heart wasn't in this one. Barely anything happens in it either, which makes this movie drag like nobody's business and feel rather boring, actually, and boring isn't a word I would use to describe any other Lynch film. Most of his films feel like there's some elusive deeper meaning to them, this one feels like everything is right there on the surface...and there isn't much there either.

Diane Ladd is completely insane in this movie, though. I'll give it that. She's a bit too much, but she's definitely giving it everything she's got.

"Wild at Heart" is still worth seeing. Don't get me wrong. As I said, it's got Nic Cage doing a sustained Elvis impersonation (he even SINGS!) and his delivery of the line "What do you faggots want?", while politically incorrect as hell, never fails to slay me. It's lower tier Lynch, but it contains some essential Cage. I'm kind of stunned that Lynch and Cage never collaborated again. Maybe it's not too late?


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