Another special screening I can thank Alamo Drafthouse for the chance to catch something that had been on my list for a while. Also part of their series looking at lesser appreciated films featuring this year’s crop of Oscar contenders, in this case the lovely Laura Dern in David Lynch’s luscious and frenetic romance Wild at Heart.
Now here’s my thing with David Lynch. I absolutely recognize him as one of the greatest and most visionary directors today. I try to seek out his films where possible. The problem is, I very rarely like them. However, I absolutely freaking love his Mulholland Dr, so I keep trying with his other work hoping that something strikes me on close to that level. Unfortunately, I tend to leave disappointed and confused. Granted, I left Mulholland possibly more confused than ever, but there was some other power in that film that grabbed me. That’s what I haven’t been able to recapture since.
Laura Dern and sweetheart Nicholas Cage have just reunited after Cage’s stint in jail for manslaughter in the name of love. They’re on a road trip across country to a new life in California, but Dern’s mother (played by her IRL mother Diane Ladd) has different ideas. She’s sent some shady characters on their trail to kill loverboy. And of course, this being a David Lynch movie, there’s a lot of strange events and characters that the pair encounter along the way.
Dern and Cage are electric. Could not keep my eyes off them (especially Dern) and I could feel the passion between them. Unfortunately, I felt like their basic A story was well basic. They’re just lost in their own world of each other, trekking along on the road. It makes sense that their simplicity balances out the crazy (we’ll get to that) but it made things somewhat less interesting for me. Doesn’t help that I also don’t tend to go in for love stories anyways.
The rest of the movie was bonkers in a very David Lynch way. If you saw this without any familiarity with him, you’d be shocked into confusion beyond all reason. I have some of that background, so I absolutely recognized his fingerprints all over this. I don’t even know how to describe things like Willem DaFaoe’s character or Diane Ladd’s lipstick meltdown or the hitwoman, but it all makes a strange kinda sense in his strange kinda world. I, unfortunately, don’t quite get his strange little world most of the time. I appreciate it for what it is, and the unique artistry it shows, it’s just not for me