David Lynch’s Palme d’Or winner Wild at Heart is one of the most narratively coherent of his films – but it also has some of the wonkiest, most fantastical characters, truly awesome dialogue, and outrageously good needle drops. Nicolas Cage as Sailor and Laura Dern as Lula are perfect in their sex-crazed, southern-talking lead roles, followed by a Lynchian star-studded cast, including beloved Twin Peaks stars Sherilyn Fenn and Sheryl Lee.
Watching a film with a crowd of people is an unparalleled experience for any David Lynch film – whether it be a dark and harrowing nightmare like that of Inland Empire and Lost Highway, or a more crowdpleasing (but not much lighter) film like Wild at Heart. You truly cannot grasp the incredible humor and iconic dancing/singing scenes without being in a dark, immersive theater. Also, the costume and scenic design absolutely glow on print, especially Lula’s iconic hot pink dress – it just doesn’t look the same anywhere else.
The Wild at Heart theater experience amplifies the absurd humor and wit of the film, along with the outrageousness in every scene. The audience roars in near-drunken laughter at each southern honey-soaked, hilarious line delivery, as well as the sudden Elvis needle drops and pure absurdity that glazes the entire narrative. Cage’s line delivery when he says “Did I ever tell you that this jacket here represents a symbol of my individuality, and my belief in personal freedom?” is absolutely incredible, the first of many insanely quotable moments.
Wild at Heart is so idiosyncratic, if it weren’t so profoundly Lynchian it probably wouldn’t work. Who else could make a fantastical road trip film that blends romance, thriller, drama, comedy, and horror that’s helmed by Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern? It’s the true magic of the film – in both the literal plot and in every aspect of the viewing experience – is seeped in through Lynch’s undying lust for art, above all. Wild at Heart incorporates The Wizard of Oz allusions (as well as other pop culture/history references), but reinvestigates the tale, looking at the combination of dreamlike fantasy with reality, when it relates to a romance as intense as that of Sailor and Lula.
The film, like Lynch’s other films, is steeped in dreamlike otherworldliness that verges on nightmare at various moments. The bounds of Sailor and Lula’s relationship are tested through the unexplainable mysteries in their pit stops, as the yellow-brick road to their ideal “happily ever after” is plagued with absurd fear. Lynch incorporates his frequent theme of fantasy versus reality, as magical, otherworldly characters and elements come in to turn their star-crossed dream into a nightmare
Pure love, which perseveres despite the desperation, delusion, and fear in their way, keeps Sailor and Lula together in their joyful fantasy, along with Elvis’s discography and Sheryl Lee as the good witch, obviously. This world truly is wild at heart, and weird on top.
Wild at Heart
dir. David Lynch
Screens Tuesday, 3/28, 7:00pm @ Coolidge Corner Theatre
Part of the series: Love on the Run