Today I watched David Lynch’s Wild at Heart (1990)
A Lynch film with Nicolas Cage? Sign me up! Unfortunately this movie kind of sucks. David Lynch is one of the most fascinating American film makers, his style defined the film underground of the 90’s and his influence can be seen everywhere. But here his style is taken to an illogical extreme, this film is almost a parody of Hollywood storytelling but comes off as an unintentional self parody.
This film stars Cage and Laura Dern as two young lovers who have skipped town and are on the run from Dern’s homicidal mother, played with lovable malice by Diane Ladd. It begins to build up an action/thriller type plot but it clashes with Lynch’s more ephemeral and meditative style. The atmosphere is just all over the place, there are bizarre heavy metal music stings that come out of nowhere, story elements just seem to appear and disappear, and the performances are all over the place. While I love Laura Dern and have nothing but respect for her as an actress, her performance here is frustratingly one note, managing to be both extremely flat and wildly over the top.
There are a lot of great moments to be had, but this film is so unfocused that it cannot extrapolate any of these moments into a worthwhile story. Nor does it manage to be an interesting riddle, there are not enough compelling clues to make me want to puzzle out a meaning to this film. On top of all that the pacing is abysmal and before I was an hour in I was looking at my watch wondering how much time had passed (not a good sign) and wishing the movie would just wrap itself up.
I wish I liked this movie because there is a lot to like, it is over the top and stylish, it has those lovable Lynchian quirks and a lot of the cast do really good jobs (Willem Dafoe is particularly freaky). It just fails at being an artsy riddle because it is so campy and it fails at being a camp classic because it is just a little to artsy. It is pulled between two worlds, both of which this film could have excelled in but it comes off as compromised in every respect. 2/5