Wild at Heart (Arrow Recommends)

Wild at Heart (Arrow Recommends)
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"Arrow Recommends is a column that has my sorry ass advise older movies to your royal asses. I will be flexible in terms of genres i.e. I will cover whatever the bleep I want. For now, it will be the way to keep my voice on the site."

PLOT: Elvis Presley knock-off Sailor (Nicolas Cage) gets out of prison and is reunited with his main-squeeze Lula (Laura Dern). They both go on the lam with their final destination being California. Alas they encounter a slew of threatening weirdos along the way and the fact that Lula’s bitter and disturbed mamma (Diane Ladd) hired a contract killer to whack Sailor doesn’t help matters either. ROCK & ROLL!

“This is a snakeskin jacket. And for me it is a symbol of my individuality and my belief in personal freedom.”
– Sailor

LOWDOWN: TWIN PEAKS THE RETURN has got me in a DAVID LYNCH kind of mood these days so I decided to re-visit some of his older films with one of them being the 1990 psychedelic road movie WILD AT HEART (GET THE DVD HERE). I had only seen it once upon its initial release (when it won the Palme D’or at Cannes) and was a tad underwhelmed by it to be honest. I enjoyed it don’t get me wrong, but no more, no less. I definitely didn’t understand the hype that was tagged to its ass at the time. But that was 27 years ago (damnnnnnnn, time flies) and I’m obviously a more mature film-goer today than I was then. So I gave the flick another long overdue try and...–  I got it.

I guess the best way I can describe WILD AT HEART is an erotic, LSD laced, gory, bleakly funny and musically inclined rocking good time! Oh and at its core, it’s a primal and earnest love story too. By result, the glue that held the whole shebang together was unquestionably the relationship between Sailor and Lula. Not only were both of them novel characters on their own, but together, their chemistry simply sizzled up the screen to smithereens. Sailor wooed me as the snakeskin jacket pimping bad boy (an at his prime Cage wanted to homage Brando and his jacket in The Fugitive Kind). He was a violent yet well-meaning Elvis-like character that randomly spit out cool lines and belted out rock tunes. 

On her end, Lula was a sweet, sex-crazed romantic with daddy issues. The love and passion they both had for life and each other won me over throughout while the hedonistic lifestyle they embraced made sure I’d follow Sailor and Lula anywhere. It should be spat that Dern broke her "no nudity" clause to do this film. She trusted Lynch and felt that the love story justified the showing of skin, and I agree. The in your face sexiness of their relationship came off as beyond authentic hence upping the stakes of the narrative. Well played!

And in true Lynch fashion, the hurricane world they were tossed in was filled with unique and memorable characters. Willem Dafoe gave one of his seminal performances as the slimy, charismatic yet mucho menacing Bobby Peru (all about the teeth baby) and Laura Dern’s real life mother Diane Ladd owned it as the overtly disturbed and booze happy mamma. And that was just the tip of the ice pick in terms of oddball peeps; the flick was filled to the brim with them, all tackled by solid thespians. Isabella Rossellini, J.E. Freeman and Crispin Glover showed up to class the joint up! And so did Twin Peaks alumni Grace Zabriskie, Jack Nance, Sherilyn Fenn, Sheryl Lee, David Patrick Kelly and Harry Dean Stanton.

Visually, Lynch wrapped his gritty road flick in a blanket of flashy style, eeriness and symbolism. More often than none, the lad often digs telling his stories via imagery often accompanied by music and here was no different (I so dug the guitar riff heavy Slaughter House by Power Mad and the use of Chris Isaac’s Wicked Game was genius). And wait till you see how he tossed in a Wizard of Oz motif into his sordid mix – that angle made the tale even more engaging. Add to all that jive an evocative/somber score by Lynch regular Angelo Badalamenti, an easy pace, a bold handling of touchy issues (like incest and rape), occasional moments of ultra violence that hit the sweet spot and all kinds of badass dialogue and you get one for the books! 

Any complaints? I guess I wish there were more bumps in the narrative and that the film went even further with its violent scenarios (I’m a horror fan-sue me) but those qualms were chump-change compared to all the gold the movie dump-trucked on my lap. Lynch can be a little too odd for lots of folks out there (his new Twin Peaks is Lynch in over drive and I’m loving every second of it) but Wild at Heart is one of his more easily digested offerings.

Hence, if you want to expand you cinematic horizons beyond the latest Annabelle or super hero flick, I highly recommend you give this one a whirl and learn a thing or two from a cinematic master! In short, WILD AT HEART was about a pure love/lust story trying to survive its journey in hell and I loved every f*cking second of it. Am suddenly craving lighting a cigarette with stick-matches and smoking it while having sex to Elvis Presley music... I wonder why. Get your WILD on!



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