Bernstein’s review published on Letterboxd:
*Well, it's a certain Lynch; no, a definite Lynch.
That's the best possible way I can figure to begin a review for such an uncertain film as this. I liked it, yet I didn't. It wasn't boring, yet I nearly fell asleep; no one can be entirely sure, myself included.
Wild at Heart is quite an odd film; not due to the typical "Lynchian" trademarks of intense sound-design, reoccurring and seemingly unkikely motifs, surrealism, etc, but due to it's unwavering devotion towards it's two main leads. Their love remains genuine and palpable, a singularly unexpected result from a Lynch film I must admit.
This authenticity is particularly enjoyed when contrasted with the blood splatters, decapitations, and sexual assaults present in nearly every other scene; it's a beautiful combination. Or perhaps, I suppose, a bit uncomfortable.
Now I must clarify, this vulgarity, this "edginess" is clearly intentional, however my problems come in the form of this films tendency to confuse such acts of horrific violence for comedy, or perhaps vice versa. Take for example, the scene in which Harry Dean Stanton finds himself brutally tortured and murdered for what seems to be absolutely no reason by a character whose motivations we barely manage to understand anymore than we do the burnt ends of Sailor and Lula's cigarettes.
This is a dim and hopeless scene (or at least it appears to be); however, the final gunshot to the back of this poor character's head is followed not by a moment of introspection, but by an abrupt smash cut to a large yellow sign which reads "Big Tuna Texas." If this is not an attempt to immediately subvert the vile taste in an audiences' mouth following such a sequence of brutality, than I'm not quite sure what the meaning of a cut even is anymore.
With this rapid confusion of tone and intention, a cloud began to wake over me as I watched Wild at Heart; an oppressive force which could be interpreted both individually and simultaneously as a subconscious sixth sense and a slight whispering voice, both of which and all of which pestered me nearly every moment which followed the next.
I couldn't help but find myself a bit bored and bit distant, an absolute shame considering my love of the Lynch; hell, I'm even one of the few who can say they enjoyed "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me."
Yet even in spite of all these... things, this whole film is just too far in the opposite direction from even that direction which Lynch moves (this is likely just left of "upper-right diagonal"). The whole thing is just wild at heart and weird on... well, you know.
*Clarification: unfortunately, this really is my least favorite Lynch film; that fact cannot be denied.
**I LOVE the Lynch, but this just didn't do it for me.