Wild at Heart

Wild at Heart ★★★★½

I hope that David Lynch has got at least a few more projects in him, if for no other reason than the hope that he'll get to work with Nic Cage again. There's a whole roster of Lynch regulars at work here. Laura Dern, Harry Dean Stanton, Jack Nance, David Patrick Kelly, and on and on. Cage fits right in there with his signature combustible goofball vibe. Imagine what both men could do now with their powers heightened further by their experiences in the last three decades.

The production is original Twin Peaks era, and Lynch feels like someone who's been chafing against the limits of how much sex can be portrayed in a network television setting. This is the most overtly sexual (and sexy) of his works by far, and Cage and Dern play that angle to the hilt. Sailor Ripley (Cage) is like an X-rated Elvis through long stretches of this, and Dern, last seen seriously in Blue Velvet as a girl next door, is just on fire here. Sailor and Lula are one of those sex-first couples, and it's more than believable from the energy that Cage and Dern bring to it. Not just in the sex scenes themselves, which are strangely hot given how horrifically twisted Lynch can make the act of lovemaking, but in the casually frank banter between the two of them in bed and on the road.

As always, you're getting a world that's constructed in accordance with dream logic when you watch a Lynch film, and this is no different. The two lovers traverse a Tennessee Williams universe on multiple hallucinogens, and it's a place populated in keeping with those principles. Marietta Fortune (Diane Ladd) is a memorable villain, obsessed with sex and already unhinged by the start of the film, pushed into demented rage by Sailor's rejection of her advances. The film is laced throughout with Wizard of Oz references and Fortune's flying monkeys are incredible. Slimy gangster Marcello Santos is unleashed to hunt the lovers, and he brings with him a freakshow of disturbing personages. The suave and perverse Mr. Reindeer (W. Morgan Sheppard), the grotesque Juana Durango (Grace Zabriskie), and Bobby Peru (Willem Dafoe), an evil John Waters with plenty of PVC foley effects following him around in the soundscape. Every scene is a page from a 1950s psychology textbook that's been left out in the rain and dried by the sun until the pages are bleached and half-legible.

The southern fried aesthetic is a different kind of playground for Lynch, which lets him go nuts with all of his signature themes and moods (thanks, Angelo Badalamenti) without it feeling like he's playing a greatest hits version of himself. It's sort of quaint to imagine him back in 1990, changing the source material to provide a happier ending because the novel was too much of a downer. Wild at Heart is both quintessential Lynch and unlike anything else that he's done.

While I'm hoping for a Cage/Lynch reunion, I'll also put a coin in the wishing well for Crispin Glover to show up again. I have no idea why his scenes were in this film, but I'm hard pressed to think of any movie that wouldn't be improved by him showing up screaming in the summer heat while wearing a Santa Claus outfit, shifting around from the roaches in his underwear. Jesus Christ.

Block or Report

Herb liked these reviews