Wild At Heart
- Nicolas Cage as Sailor Ripley
- Laura Dern as Lula Fortune
- Diane Ladd as Marietta Fortune
- Willem Dafoe as Bobby Peru
- Harry Dean Stanton as Johnnie Farragut
- J.E. Freeman as Marcellus Santos
- Isabella Rossellini as Perdita Durango
- Grace Zabriskie as Juana Durango
Wild At Heart is a surreal, dark and strange road movie directed by David Lynch. Focusing on the intense courtship between a former prisoner and his girlfriend on a deeply weird road trip across America, it is essential viewing for fans of the surreal and Lynch in general.
Sailor Ripley is a rebellious, Elvis loving guy, who is sent down for brutally killing a man with his own bare hands. He is in a raw relationship with the sensual Lula Fortune, who is constantly bombarded by her scary and needy mother, Marietta to end the romance. Disobeying her mother’s orders, Lula picks Sailor up after he is released and together they embark upon a sex-fueled, sinister road trip across many states. All the while, the manipulative and unhinged Marietta has sent a private detective to find them, but also cunningly enlisted the services of a gangster friend as she wants Sailor dead. This signals the cue for the usual Lynchian staples of dreams and surrealism, and also many homages to Elvis and The Wizard of Oz as Sailor and Lula travel down their own sinister yellow brick road and meet many creepy and deranged characters along the way.
Though it is a film that will undeniably divide viewer opinion, the performances from the cast are excellent. Nicolas Cage, clad in a seriously cool snake-skin jacket, embodies the violent, unpredictable lifestyle of Sailor. Laura Dern shows a complex young girl who is confused and sexy, sometimes at the same time. The two actors keep the audience engaged as we watch the strange events unravel around them as they travel. Heading the supporting cast is Dern’s real-life mother Diane Ladd, who creates an unforgettably unstable and resentful matriarch who surely ranks as one of the mothers from hell in the cinematic archives. Whether calmly plotting Sailor’s demise, painting lipstick all over her face or completely flying off the handle at her daughter’s defiance, she is certainly a startlingly original character. The always interesting Harry Dean Stanton is on scene stealing form as a most unlucky private investigator, drawn into this twisted mess Willem Dafoe also contributes creepiness to the narrative as a scary criminal, who has the strangest teeth I’ve ever seen on film. They are used perfectly to show a sinister side when he smiles with a snake-like glee. Also watch out for a sultry cameo from Isabella Rossellini as the bleach blonde getaway driver for criminals and a creepy performance by Lynch regular Grace Zabriskie as her crazed, murdering sister Juana.
Music plays an integral part to the film, cutting it to old school rock that the two lovers are often seen listening to or discussing. The use of the song Wicked Game is effective as the lovers drive at night and see eerie visions as the melancholy tune plays. Although the numerous references to Oz, especially in terms of visual style, may put off viewers, they contribute an almost darkly, childlike undercurrent showing how supernatural and creepy the road trip has become for the fleeing duo.
All in all, Wild At Heart is not a film for everyone’s taste, mainly because of graphic violence and macabre atmosphere. But if you relish strange, symbol-laden films populated by weird characters and striking visuals, Wild At Heart may just be the film for you.