Wild at Heart

Wild at Heart ★★★½

It’s fitting that much of Wild at Heart comes to us in flashes, be it the pseudo-vignettes of life on the road run ins or dark memories far too horrific to repress. David Lynch has always been a filmmaker looking back, and Wild at Heart must be his most quintessential film in that vein, or maybe in any vein. It is self-indulgent, vibrant, and as whacky as a loony bin birthday celebration.

One cannot be disappointed by the prospect of Nicholas Cage doing Lynch, and we get much more than the desired result. Laura Dern is characteristically stellar, even through the complicated emotional toll she must race. Willem Dafoe, Harry Dean Stanton (!!!), and the remaining cast of schizos are all memorably dynamite upon entry and exit, but upon rewatch, Diane Ladd seems to be the performance to beat. Ladd does relatively little here aside from order hits and sit around the house applying rouge in desperation, but her presence is always felt.

The rest is all Lynch. From a mysterious Southern interstate underworld that remains undeveloped to robberies gone horrifically/hilariously wrong, Wild at Heart is a pure shot to the jugular of Lynchian stylistic antic. The combo of heavy metal shows that devolve into Elvis karaoke and motel courtyard drinking sessions can only come from an auteur as “unique” as this. His emulation of The Wizard of Oz into a rollicking neo noir should induce involuntary eye roll from start to finish, and although there certainly are some instances of fatigue, there are enough of the contrary to keep one in their seat rather than out the door.

Wild at Heart must be Lynch’s quintessential film due to its equally laughable and touching sincerity, and although it isn’t without flaw, it stands by its own volition among the other pillars of his filmography.

(By the way, Crispin Glover... just legendary.)

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