Friday, 10 October 2008

No.82 : Wild At Heart

Wild at Heart at the IMDb

‘Wild at Heart’ is the last film by David Lynch that I mostly follow and it even has the rare trait of a linear narrative to boot. That said I don’t presume to understand it all, and the requisite weirdness is present and incorrect.

The film opens with a horrific killing as our hero, Sailor (Nicolas Cage), dispatches a would be assassin with extreme prejudice. We learn that the thug was hired by Sailor’s girlfriend’s mother after he turned down her drunken advances. Sailor gets done for manslaughter but his girl, Lula (Laura Dern) is waiting for him on his release from prison. This doesn't sit well with Mom who sets a couple of hit men on the trail of the happy couple.

Choosing to violate his parole Sailor decides that the couple should head for California, away from the nasty in-laws. On the way they couple have a few strange encounters, not least with a dying Sherilyn Fenn and the cast of a tubby porno film.

When they run short of cash in the town of Big Tuna they meet with the nasty Peru (Willem Dafoe) who convinces Sailor to join him on a ‘sure thing’ robbery. Unbeknown to Sailor, Peru is one of his would be assassins and things don’t look too hot at the robbery either. With Lula pregnant and the guns blazing can the star crossed lovers ever be together?

I enjoyed ‘Wild at Heart’ but maybe not as much as I should have given it’s recipe of violence, nudity and wacky characters. I was put off from the start with the guy being killed by Cage bashing his head like a melon off a marble floor. I can watch zombies eat people all day long but I can’t watch that brutal scene at all.

It does improve quickly however and the numerous sex scenes help keep the score up. Cage and Dern do seem a good match and despite his ropey singing and her accent you wish them well. The evil mother in law is great and her cadre of assassins are a weird and wonderful bunch. The best is of course Dafoe who gives a great performance as the sleazy Peru “Say fook me, say it…” he whispers for an age to a clearly up for it Dern.

Plenty of scenes are downright mental and played for laughs especially the dog who gets an early lunch. Some of the weirdness does seem a bit tacked on however and although I’m sure a sense of ‘other worldliness’ is being sought, it just seems a bit daft. Of course it isn’t meant to taken literally with plenty of ‘Wizard of Oz’ moments stuffed in to convince you that you’re really watching a fairy tale. The red shoes, good and bad witches, and the crystal ball were all present but no flying monkeys - unless you count Dafoe jumping around with his thin moustache.

The supporting cast, most of whom appeared in ‘Twin Peaks’, were great with many such as Fenn, Lee and Kelly barely scraping a scene each. Although it does have a lot to recommend it, you do find a lot of the film to be a bit self indulgent and pretentious and that stops it being the real classic which it had the potential to be.

Best Bit : Where’s my hand?

‘W’ Score : 16/23

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