19 August 2009

Wild at Heart (1990)

Written & Directed by: David Lynch
Full credits at IMDb

A dispatch from Lynch’s pre-Lost Highway accessible phase, Wild at Heart won the Palme D’Or at Cannes, though many critics maligned it: classic Lynch-hater Roger Ebert called it “sophomoric” and “dishonest”. Dishonest? But it grapples with the central fascination at play in much of the director’s early work: young lovers under threat from enormous criminal conspiracies. Nic Cage, before he became the self-parody he is today, stars as Sailor, clad in a snakeskin jacket that serves as a symbol of his individuality and his belief in personal freedom; a pre-Jurassic Park Laura Dern serves as his love interest in a performance so strong she makes you cry just by nipping at a candy necklace. He’s Elvis; she’s Marilyn. Gangsters chase the two across the country, and the film settles into a road movie, traveling through a Lynchian landscape of grotesques from Jack Nance to Willem Defoe. All the while, the director expresses his love of Americana and for cultural stuffs that predate the sexual revolution. Sailor sings “Love Me” and “Love Me Tender,” for example, but the work most on Lynch’s mind is The Wizard of Oz. At root, Wild at Heart is a trip down a yellow brick road — one that runs through the recesses of the director’s infamously nightmarish subconscious.

From the Program Notes for The L Magazine's SummerScreen series. Wild at Heart screens this evening.

Watch the trailer:

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