Strange people do strange things in 'Wild at Heart'
By V. VAN BUREN GILES
Scene Movie Critic
"Wild at Heart" is arguably David Lynch's ("Dune" "Lost Highway," "Blue Velvet") best and most highly acclaimed film. This is a story that centers on two young lovers who are adventurous, dangerous and generally "wild at heart."
The main characters are Sailor, played by Nicolas Cage ("Face Off," "Leaving Las Vegas," "8mm"), and his main squeeze Lula, played by Laura Dern ("Jurassic Park," "A Perfect World," "Mask"). Sailor has jet-black hair, wears a snakeskin jacket and looks and sounds like a '90s version of Elvis. Lula is a tall blonde who dresses rather scantily and has an accent that sounds like it's only a generation removed from poor white trash. The two make a great vision of light and darkness but share the same mentality: Live life fast and hard, die young and leave a good-looking corpse.
Both are perfectly happy with the other, but Lula's mother, played by Diane Ladd, is a complete "nut job" and despises Sailor immensely. She cannot understand the happiness that her daughter experiences with him. She will do anything to keep Sailor from being with her daughter.
The opening scene of the movie shows Sailor defending himself from a guy that Lula's mother hired to kill him. The mother's anger becomes more furious when, after being incarcerated for many years, Sailor gets out and plans on resuming his relationship with Lula. This time Lula's mother gets help from her Gangster buddy, Marcellos Santos, to put a murder contract on Sailor. She also sends her boyfriend, Johnny Farragout, played by Harry Dean Stanton ("Alien"), to track the couple and bring them back in a less deadly manner.
As is characteristic of practically every David Lynch film, an assortment of strange characters pop up at various stages of the couple's adventures. Some of them even have principle roles. Crispin Glover ("The People vs. Larry Flynt") plays the very comedic role of Jingle Dell, who's bizarre habits lead him to believe that aliens from outer space are after him. But the weirdest and most effective supporting role is from Willem Dafoe ("The Last Temptation of Christ") as the demented Bobby Varou, who has an attraction to Lula as well as a mission to kill Sailor.
There are many references to "The Wizard of Oz" scattered throughout the movie: Lula's mother is portrayed as the wicked witch of the west, Sailor gets advice from the good witch of the north, and the couple's car journey is associated with the trip down the yellow brick road.
The film is visually stunning and well acted by all the lead and bit players. Though there are some scenes of extreme sex and violence, these do not take away from the performances or from the story. At the 1990 Cannes Film Festival, "Wild at Heart" won The Golden Palm (the festival's version of Best Picture). People who liked the films "Natural Born Killers" or "Bonnie and Clyde" should check out "Wild at Heart." Most people, however, probably have never seen a film like this.
All Scene Stories for Thursday, March 2, 2000