TBTo the Screen

"Wild At Heart" (1990):


The opening scene of “Wild At Heart” sits in the crevices of the mind with pure loss of breath. This is to be expected when watching a David Lynch film.

In that scene, Sailor (Nicolas Cage) is skipping down the stairs with his girlthing, Lula (Laura Dern) just behind him in her tight peach puff sleeved dress. What ensues after a guy pushes Sailor over the edge is a bloody, brains out fight that may even be too much for Quentin Tarantino.

No character is who they are. Perdita (Isabella Rossellini) has thick eyebrows, wears faded coral lipstick and has blonde hair with all the roots, looking like a washed out Elizabeth Taylor. Willem Dafoe’s character, Bobby, favors a creeper Salvador Dali with an unflattering smile. Sailor and Lula have Southern accents but Nicolas’ seems to be an effort to channel his real life idol Elvis Presley. It doesn’t help that Sailor wears a gaudy off python jacket. Harry Dean Stanton and Diane Ladd are wonderfully weird as a hitman and Lula’s mother, respectively.

This is a disturbing soap opera. It is also bizarrely realistic. How did the actors agree to carry out these scenes? “The Wizard of Oz” is often a point of reference and relates to the lack of sense in their reality, the constant daydreamer. There is a lot of sex, chain smoking, cheap motel rooms and the top off the old school ride. It is the archetypal young love and the parent who wants to keep them apart. In this film, love is murderous, challenging and sprayed with lots of Aquanet.