Review: ‘Wild at Heart’

Joltingly violent, wickedly funny and rivetingly erotic, David Lynch's Wild at Heart [based on the novel by Barry Gifford] is a rollercoaster ride to redemption through an American gothic heart of darkness.

Joltingly violent, wickedly funny and rivetingly erotic, David Lynch’s Wild at Heart [based on the novel by Barry Gifford] is a rollercoaster ride to redemption through an American gothic heart of darkness.

The brutal opening signals that this film is not for the faint of heart. Sailor (Nicolas Cage), an Elvis-acolyte whose snakeskin jacket proclaims his ‘duality and individuality’, and his seethingly sexy 18-year-old girlfriend Lula (Laura Dern) are waylaid leaving a dance hall somewhere in the Carolinas. Sailor literally cracks open the assassin with his bare hands. He does two years for manslaughter in ‘Pee Dee’ state pen.

Sailor breaks parole and absconds with Lula to New Orleans, pursued by private eye Johnnie Farragut (Harry Dean Stanton) who’s hired by Lula’s insanely obsessive mother Marietta (Dern’s real-life mother, Diane Ladd) his sometime lover.

His rival for this psychotic witch’s affections are mobster Marcello Santos (J.R. Freeman), also unleashed on the lovers’ trail as a precaution by mamma. Santos tabs a bordello-dwelling hit-man to annihilate Stanton in a bayou-style ritual murder. It’s not the storyline’s first or last doublecross.

1990: Nomination: Best Supp. Actress (Diane Ladd)

Wild at Heart

Production

Polygram/Propaganda. Director David Lynch; Producer Monty Montgomery, Steve Golin, Joni Sighvatsson; Screenplay David Lynch; Camera Fred Elmes; Editor Duwayne Dunham; Music Angelo Badalamenti; Art Director Patricia Norris

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1990. Running time: 127 MIN.

With

Nicolas Cage Laura Dern Diane Ladd Willem Dafoe Isabella Rossellini Harry Dean Stanton

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