Dan Abel’s review published on Letterboxd:
"This whole world is wild at heart and weird on top" - Lula
It's time to take another step toward completing the David Lynch filmography.
In Cape Fear, somewhere on the border between North and South Carolina, Sailor and Lula are deeply in love. Lula's mother Marietta Fortune or Miss. Fortune is one mean bitch. A wealthy woman that hates Sailor and vows to have him killed. Her first attempt lands him in jail when he brutally kills his attacker in front of a crowd. 22 months later he's out and him and Lula are determined to be together no matter what. Sailor breaks parole and the two decide to run away to California. Miss Fortune isn't going to take that defiance lying down so she sends a series of killers to chase them down, kill Sailor, and return Lula home.
"Wild at Heart" isn't streaming anywhere via subscription, rental, or purchase, so I had to take the to seven seas of the internet to find it. "Arrrgh!" Based on a novel by Barry Gifford, this is a love story. A dark romantic comedy with great gore sprinkled on top from one of the most complicated minds in the history of film. Full of symbolism that only the truly dedicated will understand or research only to come to subjective interpretations for "answers". There are well over a dozen Wizard of Oz references that I don't get but I have grown not to try so hard at understanding Lynch films. I think that may be the key to enjoying the Lynchian formula.
Young Nicholas Cage, a man who talks like Elvis and Laura Dern play a very strange young couple that are head over heels for each other in bizarre Lynchian fashion. The sexual chemistry that they have is quite impressive and believable. They headline a cast that's chock full of talent. Crispin Glover always plays a great psychopath in his four or five minutes of screen time and that's probably because seems to be one in real life. Willem Defoe is always tremendous and that's exactly the case here with his portrayal of Bobby Peru, a real grimey psychopath. There's a part where he repeats multiple times "say it!" and I can't help but picture that scene from "The Lighthouse." There are also many cameos from various Twin Peaks cast members and as a dork for the series I was elated at each one.
The great Angelo Badalamenti is onboard to compose. Some of his work will sound very familiar as Twin Peaks used very similar melodies, especially the jazzy finger snapping stuff. It's odd that his work doesn't stand out quite so much here as the strange use of metal music permeates the experience. The plot is as ridiculous as someone who knows Lynch would expect, especially at the 1 hour 7 minutes and 40 seconds mark where the real Lynchian shit hits the fan never to be explained.
This is the perfect film to watch with a date who has never seen Lynch before. There's enough dark comedy to keep them interested but enough insanity to make them say "wtf!?". A strange love story. The man himself said "Wild at Heart" is about finding love in hell. I dig it. One takeaway I have from this film is my crush on young Laura Dern has grown. I don't know why, but that's just nature I guess. Either this film or "Blue Velvet" would be the first films I'd recommend to someone who wants to experience Lynch without being completely flabbergasted. If I ever decide to date again I will definitely make this film a date night.