Young lovers Sailor and Lula run from the variety of weirdos that Lula’s mom has hired to kill Sailor.
‘Wild At Heart’ is a thrillingly erotic road movie, featuring excellent lead performances from Laura Dern and Nicolas Cage, set against a backdrop of Elvis and ‘Wizard of Oz’ references. It is every bit as strange and surreal as that description sounds. The film tells the story of Sailor and Lulu (Cage & Dern), two lovers who are separated after Sailor is jailed for killing a man who attacked him with a knife. When he is released from prison, they decide to run away together thus breaking Sailor’s parole. The film follows the lovers primarily, but we also spend time with Lulu’s crazed mother who hires a combination of private detectives and gangsters to track the pair down.
One of the key things that makes the film work is the undeniable chemistry between its leads, with Cage and Dern’s passion for each other coming across entirely genuine (it’s perhaps no surprise the pair shared a relationship for a spell in real life), and the sex scenes are for lack of a better word, extremely sexy. It’s vitally important that we can sense this passion in their relationship to believe the decisions the characters take throughout the movie, and Cage & Dern absolutely nail it. This film was released in 1990, which would have made Cage around 25/26 at the time of filming, and he doesn’t look much different today as he did then!
Lulu’s crazed mother is played by Diane Ladd (also Dern’s mother in real life), and despite receiving an Oscar nomination for her performance, she felt overly melodramatic to me in the role. The rest of the supporting cast are pretty strong, with Willem Dafoe the most prominent as the sleazy pervert, Bobby Peru, and reliable characters actors Harry Dean Stanton and J.E. Freeman playing a private detective and a gangster respectively. In terms of other awards, ‘Wild At Heart’ was the winner of the prestigious Palme D’Or at Cannes in 1990 to a reportedly mixed reaction. Overall, the film feels like a success story for the basis of throwing a lot of ideas at the screen and hoping some of them stick. A lot of what makes ‘Wild At Heart’ tick shouldn’t really work on paper but it adds up to a surreal and thoroughly entertaining experience.
Next up, I’ll be watching the Twin Peaks prequel, ‘Fire Walk With Me’. I had a love/hate relationship with the TV series when I watched it a few years back (as in loved Season 1, hated Season 2 and didn’t finish it in the end). The origin tale promises to be an interesting watch.
Directed By: David Lynch
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Laura Dern, Diane Ladd, Willem Dafoe, Harry Dean Stanton, Isabella Rossellini, J.E. Freeman, Crispin Glover, W. Morgan Sheppard, Grace Zabriskie, Jack Nance and Sherilyn Fenn