Wild at Heart

Wild at Heart ★★★★★

An unapologetically madcap and knowing send up to the films of Elvis Presley, and any number of the swarm of "Love on the Run" films, David Lynch's Wild at Heart is a wild and crazy, yet ultimately entertaining, ride through the Southeast United States, following the quirky, very sexually active couple of Lula (Laura Dern) and Sailor (Nicholas Cage), who, despite the best attempts of Lula's tyrannical and dominating mother (Diane Ladd, Laura Dern's real life mother) and a swarm of quintessentially Lynchian freaks and oddballs that the mother hired to catch them, manage to ultimately find happiness.

Lynch, as always, directs the film with a bent towards the surreal, from the distortion of sound, to the interplay of the mundane with the horrific. His vision of the southeast united states is one filled with hidden killers, backwater hillbillies, and lurking menace. Yet, at the same time, the film embraces its weirdness in a winking manner, contrasting the dark, disturbing bursts of violence and the decidedly adult sexual content with Sailor and Lula's almost childlike and endearing affection for each other. Sure, they're both quite into each other in the physical sense, but almost all of their conversations have the mannerisms of young, starry eyed children, hopeful for the future, and just irrepressibly glad to be in love with each other, and willing to face any struggle together as one. It's actually incredibly endearing and adorable, and when coupled with Cage's knowingly hammy Elvis impression, and Laura Dern's smoking vixen, the film never allows itself to stoop into complete desolation.

As a sharp contrast to the vibrant and upbeat nature of Lula and Sailor's relationship, is the disturbing, psychopathic and dominating aura of Marietta Fortune, the mother of Lula. Diane Ladd flies off the handle in the best possible way, her entire personality a seething cauldron of wild eyed spite and madness. From her wrapping Harry Dean Stanton's private investigator/boyfriend around her finger, to her interloping with J. E. Freeman's cold blooded gangster, Ladd uses every bit of her screentime to the fullest, chewing the scenery with gleeful, wonderful abandon.

The rest of the cast, from Willem Dafoe as a deranged, rape minded hired killer, to Isabella Rossellini as Dafoe's faux-girlfriend, to Twin Peaks cast members Sherilyn Fenn, Sheryl Lee, Grace Zabriskie, David Patrick Kelly and Jack Nance as an assortment of folks our lovers run across, are all spot on, as usual as per Lynch. Filling the film with a wild eyed color, they help contribute the deliberately over the top and ever so tongue in cheek nature of the film.

As always, Frederick Elmes' cinematography is excellent, drenching the film in glorious colors, perfectly evoking the heat of the south, while also underscoring the dark underbelly perfectly. Coupled with the wild assortment of music (everything from Elvis songs to jazz to speed metal), along with Angelo Badalamenti's discordant score, the film is one that runs wild with itself, and in doing so, serves to entertain brilliantly.

Obviously, as a David Lynch film, it's far from mainstream. The over the top nature of, well, everything in the film can mean that for some, it's all far too much. But for me, an avowed Lynch fan, it's a wildly fun ride.

Also, the ending is absolutely adorable. And I say that without a lick of irony.

5 out of 5 stars.

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