Frank Ritz’s review published on Letterboxd:
Movie 8 out of 8: The perfect closing film, to an absolutely fantastic weekend.
David Lynch and I, have only really become friends in the last year and a half, maybe two. I used to actively loathe him, and dismiss all his films as pretentious artsy crap. I have seen the error in my small-minded ways, and he is now comfortably sitting as my second favorite director. In that last year and a half, or two years, I have watched, or re-watched, all of his films, except for this. Wild at Heart, when I first watched it, I thought was going to be my last bastion of Lynch hope; assuming it would be somewhat normal, and I didn’t like it because it was so far from normal. Now, at the conclusion of this blazing weekend, Sailor and Lula’s quest to go to the end of the rainbow, is a male-dominated fantasy of the American Dream, filtered through Lynch’s nightmare aesthetic, while having the energy of a small child given too many Red Bull’s, to create a entertaining movie.
Classic Lynchian flare is present; odd side characters with strange defining quirks (the high pitched voiced man at the bar is legendary), an absolutely terrifying villain (Willem Dafoe in a highlight of his career), a seamless blend of horror and comedy (with a nice addition of action here), and of course Laura Dern, delivering at the same level she always has. Not to say the similarities stop there, but this does feel like a transition piece for Lynch, sandwiched somewhere between the pre and post Twin Peaks Lynch. Pre-TPL had more of an affinity for narrative, and letting his characters wander the worlds of his mind, Post-TPL focused more directly on the duality of human beings, and traversing the dark trenches of the human subconscious. Wild at Heart mostly plays to the pre-TPL, but elements are there for what would follow in later pictures.
Like that child hyped up on red bulls, there’s a point where Wild at Heart eventually slows down, and it makes the film feel longer than it actually is. Some meandering scenes are throughout; mostly scenes of Lula praising Sailor obsessively, which made me roll my eyes 100% of the time. There’s still Lynch’s schoolboy sex obsession, but here instead of it being associated with fear, it’s associated with Love, which admittedly is a nice change of pace, even if it still feels adolescent. It still always rubs me odd when his exploration of sexuality lives in such a young mind’s view of it, and here it’s mostly appraisal of the male in this relationship.
I already mentioned Dafoe and Dern, and while both deliver top tier performances, no one comes close to achieving the magic that Nic Cage brought to the table. This film seems catered to him; he gets to be crazy, cool, overthefuckingtop, while towing the dramatic and comedic line, and Lynch gives him the same freedom that Sailor is trying to keep (I mean, that jacket was Cage’s personal jacket). It’s times like these where I remember Nic Cage is actually a great, committed, actor, whose career was undone by Hollywood’s money run system, and very poor typecasting, not because there’s any lack of talent.
I really enjoyed this a lot more than my first movie, and it was the absolute best closer this weekend could have had. The climax of the film feels rushed, but that ending is literal perfection. Sailor and Lula will chase their dream forever, and I’m sure a lot more sex, violence, singing, and dancing, will be along the way.