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Vancity_Film_Fanatic1 March 2005
Recipient of the prestigious Palme d'Or award at Cannes, David Lynch's "Wild at Heart" is an amazingly brilliant spectacle for the senses. Bold splashes of deep red, curiously staged musical numbers (Nicolas Cage does his own singing – and he's great!), and the continuous references to "The Wizard of Oz" help create a surreal and dreamlike texture to the narrative. The story in brief: Sailor and Lula (excellent performances from both Nicolas Cage & Laura Dern); two broken souls passionately in love, flee the vengeful wrath of Lula's mother Marietta, who for reasons of her own will stop at nothing to ensure the lovers are kept apart. Diane Ladd practically steals the show in her brave portrayal of Lula's psychopathic mother Marietta. Gut wrenchingly violent in places, hopelessly romantic in others; Lynch has crafted an adult fairy tale worthy of multiple viewings. Recommended to those who enjoy and appreciate abstract methods of film-making – a definite 10/10!
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This whole world is Wild at Heart and crazy on top
Afracious29 September 1999
Wild at Heart begins with an arresting scene of bloody violence by one of the two lead characters, Sailor Ripley, and this immediately grabs our attention. After this he hooks up with his lover, Lula, who he fiercely protects, and goes on a bizarre road trip into the deep south of the states, while avoiding Lula's mother, played with passion by a deservedly Oscar-nominated Diane Ladd, who has an obsessive hatred for Sailor. They meet an assortment of weird people, especially Bobby Peru, and also Perdita Durango, who has appeared recently in a film with her name as the title, also written by Barry Gifford. It is classic David Lynch, with a homage type theme to the Wizard of Oz. It has the sensuality and eroticism later seen in Lost Highway, the violence and gore, the head sequence after the bank robbery being graphic, and a general uneasiness throughout. But it is a darkly humorous and transfixing piece.
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In A Word: Outrageous!
ccthemovieman-17 January 2006
Outrageous! This is another sick-but-fascinating David Lynch film, maybe his sickest, although I've never seen Eraserhead.

The most interesting feature of this strange movie, I think, was the weird characters, one after the other. Make that ultra-weird.....and the strangest of them all is "Bobby Peru," played by Willem Dafoe. In all my years of movie watching, I think "Bobby Peru" still has to rank in the top five of the creepiest characters. He is so outrageously disgusting and perverted you just have to laugh out loud at him.

In fact, "outrageous" might be the best word to describe this film, characters and all.

This wild and entertaining film sometimes makes me shake my head in disgust that I own it, and at other times makes me just laugh out loud at the absurdity of it. You really have to have a dark sense of humor to appreciate much of it. I do, to some degree....enough to keep viewing this.

Nicholas Cage is particularly fun to watch and provides most of the laughs. Laura Dern is also convincing as a trailer-trash-type. If you want a clue on why Dern would play such a sleazy role, check out her real-life mom in this film, Diane Ladd, who plays her mother in the movie. It looks like Mom passed on her wholesome values.

As with some other Lynch films, the music is outstanding: just a great soundtrack. I bought the CD to this a year after first seeing the movie, and I've always enjoyed it. And, another Lynch trait that certainly is here is the excellent visual style, which is enhanced by the widescreen DVD.

So, if you are looking for an outrageous two hours and you aren't easily shocked or offended, this would be a film to consider.
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A symbol of Lynch's individuality and personal freedom.
ruthierocks13 November 2008
Wild at Heart is probably the most conventional David Lynch film I've seen. That being said, it still remains very far from mainstream. Wild at Heart revolved around a young couple, played to perfection by Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern. Fast paced, mostly ridiculous, and pretty unrealistic, Wild at Heart is far from perfect, but a very fun film to watch.

The premise is strange, but intriguing. A young couple is separated when the guy, an Elvis fanatic named Sailor (Nicolas Cage), goes to prison for manslaughter after defending himself against a man who threatened him. When he gets out, he is desperate to get Lula (Laura Dern), the girl he loves, back again. Lula is more than willing to pick up the relationship, but if her mother has anything to do with it, she won't have a chance. Being young and in love, the girl rebels. However, her mother's desperation leads her to contact a hit-man she is in knows and the young couple is forced to run away. The two lovebirds head to California and encounter all sorts of crazy situations along the way.

Arguably the best thing about Wild at Heart is its great cast. Nicolas Cage is in his prime here and the role is, somewhat, reminiscent of the "repeat offender" he played in Raising Arizona. Nicolas Cage was great in his pre-action-hero movies. Laura Dern is equally excellent. I'd never understood the reason for her popularity in sexy roles. It's effective here, though, and she embodies sweet yet trashy Lula wonderfully. Supporting performances by Willem Defoe, Harry Dean Stanton, and Diane Ladd also provide liveliness that enhances the film.

Although it deals with such serious subjects as murder, incest, and general family dysfunction, Wild at Heart is anything but serious. The film is chocked full of amusing moments and over the top clichés. The best example of this is the presence of a rich, older crime boss with a penchant for having young – preferably naked – young girls surrounding him at all times he's present. There are a few moments when the style gets repetitive and the characters do something worthy of much eye-rolling. Despite that, this movie is never boring and fairly unpredictable.

Wild at Heart is a fun adventure to hitch a ride on. It is full of energy and snappy dialogue. Unlike most Lynch films, it is very linear and straight forward. The acting is excellent and the characters are strangely likable. Wild at Heart feels a little long and drags in a few places toward the end, but this barely hinders the film in its entirety. This is an amusing film, one that would make a good introduction to Lynch for those unfamiliar. For the rest of us, it's simply an enjoyable piece of film-making.

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Beautiful, violent, funny and surreal--a masterpiece from David Lynch
BrandtSponseller22 July 2005
This is one of my favorite David Lynch films. It is also one of the more transparent, easy to understand Lynch films, although that's not the reason why it's one of my favorites. But that fact also makes Wild at Heart a good candidate for introducing someone to Lynch.

On the other hand, although it's more transparent and linear on a surface level, I'm still not sure I've figured out the multilayered, bizarre subtexts and symbolism that lie deep beneath the surface--even though I've seen it a few times now. Assuming that there is indeed something to figure out. To an extent, it seems like maybe the hint of something "deeper" is in this case more of a red herring. This is one of Lynch's funnier films, albeit very macabre humor. It contains references to all of Lynch's most common "content quirks"—including sequined ingénues singing jazz, manipulative housewife types, shots of asphalt speeding by, minor characters with freaky speech "impediments", severed body parts, and on and on--but it's almost as if he's making fun of himself. Combine that with excellent performances (including a hilarious bit part for Crispin Glover, one of my favorite actors/personalities), a sublimely incongruous score, and a retro, gripping, violent road trip saga cum romance that presages both Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers (1994) and just about all of Quentin Tarantino's career, and you've got quite a film.

Wild at Heart, based on a novel by Barry Gifford, is the tale of Sailor (Nicolas Cage) and Lula (Laura Dern), a doe-eyed, "classy white trash" couple. As the film starts--and what a start it is--someone tries to stab Sailor to death as he's exiting a theater. Sailor will have none of it, and Lynch begins the film on an exhilarating, brutally violent note--this is not a film for the faint of heart. To complicate matters and set up the primary conflict, we learn even before the attempted stabbing that the hit man was sent by Lula's mother, Marietta Fortune (Diane Ladd), who claimed that Sailor tried to seduce her in the bathroom (this isn't quite true, as we learn in detail later).

There isn't a character in the film who isn't involved with some shady business, either presently or in the past. Sailor and Marietta's tensions stem from many years ago, when Lula was just a girl (she's supposedly quite a bit younger than Sailor). The events of the film's opening result in Sailor being imprisoned. Lula dutifully waits for his release, much to the consternation of her mom. The basic gist of the film is disarmingly simple--Sailor and Lula are headed across the country, with an eventual goal of California, as Marietta tries to arrange for Sailor to be put away for good. There are many finely realized subplots and detailed tangents, but that's the crux of the plot on the surface.

In addition to his typical hyperreal/surreal weirdness, Lynch concocts a very improbable stew of influences that work together beautifully. Lula has something of an obsession with The Wizard of Oz (1939). She's haunted by visions of the wicked witch (including the "evil cackle"), and she sees the road trip as a veritable journey to the Emerald City. Lynch works in a lot of subtle references to The Wizard of Oz with other characters, too. Sailor is something like lounge version of Elvis reincarnated as a gangster flunky, with even better karate moves to match. Yet the two are huge heavy metal fans, especially of a band named "Powermad", whose music exquisitely punctuates many sequences, including some sublime dance scenes. In the first half, important scenes are set in New Orleans, with the familiar unsettling undertone that that locale often has in films--you can just smell the voodoo, sex, drugs and death bubbling beneath the skin of the city. Later scenes are set in the desolate, desert prairie country of Texas, which turns out to be even more unsettling (even though I really find such places refreshing and relaxing). There are other kinds of symbolic, stylistic and literal references worked into the film, such as the constant fire motif, which Lynch shoots beautifully, but the above is to just give you an idea of the stew.

It all seems like it should add up to some subtextual grand narrative, and maybe it does, but I haven't quite figured out what it all means yet. But it doesn't matter. The stylistic flourishes are ingenious superficially, too, and maybe Lynch _is_ just poking fun at being Lynch. Here, perhaps more than in any other work, he has found the perfect balance between the soap-operatic and the utterly bizarre--the filmic equivalent to author Harry Crews' best work.

Tarantino doesn't tend to have pithy subtexts in his films, either, but they're no worse the wear for that, and when Wild at Heart takes a turn into typical Tarantino territory, Lynch is just as captivating, gritty and groovy, plus he's doing it before Tarantino himself. At the same time, Lynch manages to maintain a parallel lush, erotic romance between Sailor and Lula--Dern is incredibly sexy/sensuous here. This material works as well, and supplies what just may be the message of the film after all--that love can (eventually) conquer all, even the stuff that's "wild at heart and weird on top".
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Lynch on the road to hell
Coventry12 February 2004
The most creative and controversial director in cinema is back with a road-movie! Wild at Heart is one rough roller coaster ride and a typical Lynch-cocktail of violence, sex and of course…bizarre characters. I challenge you to find one personality in this film that could be referred to as a ‘normal human being'. As usually, Lynch introduces a bunch of wicked individuals in his film who're all messed up in the head pretty bad. Yet, I feel like Wild at Heart might be Lynch's most accessible film (outside The Elephant Man and The Straight Story). The structure remains chronological and quite easy to follow. Unlike the previous Blue Velvet, I feel like the plot and development of Wild at Heart is a bit inferior to the wonderful photography. The greatest aspects in the screenplay are in fact the delicious side-chapters that are told without absolute necessity. Like the story about Lula's cousin Dell (Crispin Glover), the torture of Harry Dean Stanton's character and the nasty and disturbing images of a car accident the protagonists come across. These are the little sequences that truly prove Lynch's talent as a storyteller. Overall and simply put: this movie is COOL! It's a joy to watch and you really hate to love some of the offensive characters. Willem Dafoe takes the cake as Bobby Peru. His portrayal is a neat follow-up to Blue Velvet's Frank Booth. Peru is a filthy and despicable pervert with itchy-trigger-fingers! It's a damn shame he hasn't got any more screen time. Wild at Heart surely isn't the greatest masterpiece out there, but you should love it for what it is: an absurd and entertaining adventure with a couple of thought-provoking values and an extraordinary love-lesson.
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So violent, bizarre and mysterious that it actually works.
Stu-59 April 1999
The opening scene to Wild At Heart features Nick Cage ferociously beating an assassin to death. Heads are rammed against walls, fists are lunged into guts and what results is a brutally bashed corpse with brains pouring out of it's head. This kind of high-octane violence which is fueled by maniacal characters and deranged intervals creates a fantastic effect. One which has so much impact and so much individuality to it's merit that it turns out to be one hell of a movie.

This is simultaneously a thrilling road movie and a revelation of small town, American country folk. The two protagonists, Sailor and Lula (Nicholas Cage and Laura Dern) are so in love with each other that they'd go to extreme lengths not to be separated. Their separation is exactly what Lula's crazed mother wants, as she believes that Sailor is a cold-blooded murderer who is putting her daughter in danger. Her anger is so fierce that the viewer becomes slightly scared by her: her manic fits of rage where she plasters herself in red lipstick; her bizarre paroxysms fueled by numerous cocktails. All of her slight idiosyncrasies and mannerisms well up to create a very intimidating mother. She sends out a hitman to dispose of Sailor and bring back her daughter, but the lovely couple are on the run from her and the law.

Sailor and Lula meet up with some very strange characters whilst travelling far away from Lula's mother. The eccentricities of 'Tuna Town' in Texas, the insane car accident victim and Lula's nutcase cousin who believes that "the man with the black glove is coming to get him". It's all rudimentary David Lynch fare. He has mastered the art of contemporary film making: a clever blend of black-comedy, violence and fantasy.

The viewer builds an empathy for the two main characters, as it would be a terrible thing to see their undying love for each other shattered. The other characters in the movie all seem to want to destroy that love. Sailor's character, although violent and hardbitten, seems the most normal of the lot. It takes a sane man to make sense of all the insane folk in America's underbelly. He puts up with a lot from everyone, but all he really wants to do is escape from it all with Lula.

After all, who can love in a world that's wild at heart?

Nine out of ten.
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Languorous violence
rmax30482330 June 2004
Warning: Spoilers
When Lynch wants to say something he takes his time, no doubt about it. Sometimes he takes his time even when he doesn't have much to say. Example?

Isabella Rosselini in torn stocking, shabby wig, and red shoes is swaying gently to some music when Willem DaFoe crashes in and gives her a vigorous smooch. That's the beginning and the end of the scene. Another example? Cage and Laura Dern are having an argument just after he's let out of the slams. She's nervous and upset because she hasn't seen him in six years. He looks at her intently and tells her it's a mistake for them to get back together again. There is about a twenty-second closeup of Dern's magnificent blue eyes. They don't drip with tears. They don't even blink. They stare directly into the camera. Why? Like you, I'd have to guess. (I'd guess that her unblinking, unteary stare is meant to tell us that she sees things pretty clearly despite being shaken. That's pretty banal, I know, but my mind is open to other interpretations.)

I don't mean to sound as if I'm bashing the movie because that's not what I mean to do. Let's linger a little over a much later scene. It takes place in the middle of a city street, El Paso I would guess, but it's one of those industrial-area streets that are deserted on weekends. It's a wide sun-baked silent street cluttered with drunken-looking telephone poles and lined with one-story factories and warehouses, and there is a city skyline way in the distant, cerulean with urban haze. And Cage is walking alone through this bleak and ominous landscape. But it's not only the visuals that makes this scene outstanding. A handful of viperous dudes wearing black fall in behind Cage's figure and another group of Thugees finally blocks his way in mid-street. The music comes to an abrupt halt. Nobody says anything. The atmosphere throbs with threat. Cage sets down his suitcase, takes the time to deliberately light a cigarette, looks around him, and asks, "Okay -- what do you faggots want?" What they want is to beat the hell out of him, and they get their wish. The unconscious Cage has a vision of The Nice Witch of the West (don't ask) and when he recovers he finds he's still surrounded by these sadistic brutes who ask him if he's had enough. He struggles to his feet, gingerly feeling his "broken" rubber nose, and says, "Yes, I've had enough. Furthermore, I'd like to apologize for referring to you dudes earlier as homosexuals. You've taught me a lesson." Then he runs away ecstatically. How many other movies can boast ten minutes worth of film like that?

Now, I can see where a lot of ten-year-olds (or ten-year-old minds) might be bored with this film. It's long. There isn't an abundance of violence, although DaFoe does get his head blown off by twin blasts from a shotgun. I mean, quite literally, his head is blown completely off. It bounces off the wall like a football and lands with a loud splat on the pavement. So maybe there's a little hope for the horror afficionados after all, but not much, when you get right down to it.

The movie is punctuated with violence and, even more, with oddities, but mostly it moves languorously. Cage and Dern thrum through the Texas night in a shiny old convertible whose radio plays nothing but news like, "A man won his appeal today for dismissal of charges that he ate his own child." Well -- not that, but equally weird. One relative of Dern gets his kicks by putting a cockroach directly on his nether orifice. Willem DaFoe should definitely sue his dental surgeon. He thrusts his mouth close to Dern's at one point, urging her to say something filthy to him and he'll let her go, and his mouth is like a limpet's, his lips a disgusting circle of membrane filled with hideous teeth.

I wouldn't argue that "Wild at Heart" should be put into a time capsule, but it's not a movie that's easy to forget. David Lynch may or may not be a hot commercial property but he's one of the most original directors working today.
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A stark trip into the heart of the weird and not so wonderful.
ThreeSadTigers3 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
It's true to say that Wild At Heart is perhaps one of David Lynch's more-flawed cinematic endeavours, with many of the scenes and indeed, the film as a whole, seeming incomplete or lacking any real purpose. One criticism of the film that tends to crop up most often is that the whole thing smacks of "weirdness for weirdness sake", with Lynch failing to tie his strange characters and their surreal situations to any kind of real narrative, which, I suppose, is true. However, despite these flaws, the film is still a great deal of fun, and although the whole thing is ultimately very silly, it still has enough bizarre high-points, set-pieces, sight-gags and cameos to make the whole thing ultimately worthwhile.

I suppose the film is best described as a vicious black-comedy, though the emphasis there is on 'vicious'. Lynch also makes allusions to the 'lovers on the run' genre of crime film-making popular in the 60's and 70's, taking it all further into the realms of the bizarre through his own cinematic obsessions (like deformities, arson, small-town Americana, detective fiction, good versus evil, car-accidents, etc), as well as more arcane references to Elvis, voodoo, incest, and the Wizard of Oz. It's a surreal trip, best summed up by the film's repeated mantra "wild at heart, weird on top" with Lynch seemingly revelling in this carnival of grotesques, whores, thugs and criminals, all gathered together in small-town New Mexico under a haze of blood and sex. American film critic Roger Ebert mockingly referred to the film as a "lurid melodrama, soap opera, exploitation put-on, and self-satire", which to me, sums up the film's most successful attributes. The plot takes off from films like Thieves Like Us, Bonnie & Clyde and Badlands, pre-dating Oliver Stone's similarly over-the-top dark-satire, Natural Born Killers, with two star-struck lovers hitting the road in an attempt to escape from the pressures of the modern-world (parole, poverty and an over-bearing mother). Lynch lays on the melodramatic clichés in broad stroke, to the point where all narrative references are to be taken with a pinch of salt... for example, it's not enough for our hero Sailor to be a murdering jail-bird from the wrong-side of the tracks, but he has to have a loving, sex-kitten girlfriend from a well-to-do neighbourhood with over-protective loved-ones. Admittedly, Lynch does subvert this almost saccharine depiction of moral family values by offering a flashback, in which our heroine, Lula, is assaulted by a predatory uncle, while her mother is later revealed to be a drunk, manic-depressive with mafia ties, which again, is all part of the joke.

There's also the spirit of the 50's, with Fredrick Elmes' colourful wide-screen cinematography bringing to mind the Technicolor melodrama of Hollywood's golden age, and the films of people like Nicholas Ray, Elia Kazan and Douglas Sirk. There's also the obligatory references to the feckless youth of Brando in The Wild One, or the self-aware pastiche of Coppola's great film Rumble Fish, with the characters here looking and sounding like they've walked out of the pages of a lurid slice of pure pulp fiction. Of course, this is another problem that some viewers have had with the film, with Lynch offering no real characters - as he had done with masterpieces like The Elephant Man and Blue Velvet - and instead relying on arcane ciphers and bizarre caricatured grotesques. Again, this is all part of the fun and not really intended to be taken entirely seriously, with Lynch and his actors keeping the film moving from one out-burst of random surrealism to the next; with a number of humours and/or terrifying iconic performances from this esteemed, though certainly eclectic, cast of characters. The centre of the film, and indeed, the real focus of our attention, is established and sustained well through the relationship between the characters Sailor and Lula, which is developed surprisingly well through the strong and fearless performances of Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern. Dern has never looked more stunning in a film as the sensual and unhinged Lula, whilst Cage reminds us of what a strong and intense character actor he used to be in the days before he switched to shallow Hollywood blockbusters. Both actors have a great chemistry with each other, and create a believable relationship in spite of the over-the-top abstractions and dramatic flourishes called for by Lynch's script. Amongst the supporting players, Harry Dean Stanton is a joy as the hound-dog private-investigator Johnny Farragut, who is sent looking for Sailor and Lula by his lover, Lula's mother Marietta Fortune, who is brought vividly to life with a grand-standing over-the-top relish by Dern's real-life mother, Diane Ladd.

Add some bizarre cameos from Lynch regulars, like Sherilyn Fenn, Jack Nance, Freddie Jones, Grace Zabriskie, Isabella Rossalini, Sheryl Lee (here continuing the Oz references with her climactic appearance as the good witch), J.E. Freeman, Crispin Glover (in one of the film's most bizarre scenes, as Lula's troubled cousin Dell), and an extended appearance by an unrecognisable Willem Dafoe, who's character Bobby Peru meets one of the most outlandish and overly violent sequences ever witnessed on screen. Certainly this film doesn't quite floor-me with it's madness as it used to when I was 14 or 15 (and would watch this and Blue Velvet pretty much religiously), with Lynch subsequently out-doing himself with the modern masterpiece Mulholland Drive. However, this film is probably more fun, and doesn't take as much concentration to really follow or get into it.

Ultimately, the film works depending on how much of Lynch's bizarre creations you can stand; with the film falling somewhere between the darkly-comic satire of Twin Peaks at it's most wittiest and the dark, industrial nightmare of Lost Highway, only with a more linear plot. I still think it's a great deal of fun, and will undoubtedly appeal to die-hard Lynch fans or those with an interest in cult American cinema.
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A Surreal, Nightmarish Road trip that's Wild at Heart and Weird on Top!
NateManD5 August 2005
"Wild at Heart" is one deranged and twisted road trip as only David Lynch could bring you. It's so dark but at times funny too. Lula (Laura Dern) and Sailor (Nicholas Cage)are in love, but Lula's mother played by Laura Dern's real life mother Diane Ladd is evil. She doesn't want to see them together. Because of a murder, Sailor is finally released from prison. Lula's mom hires people to kill sailor. So Lula and Sailor go on a crazy road trip with dark and fellini like characters. William Defoe is unforgettable as the creepy and perverted Bobby Peru. The film almost received an X/NC-17 rating. It's easy to see why, it has lots of disturbing sex and violence. But than again that's a David Lynch trademark. This film is probably on my list of favorite road trip movies, next to Godard's "Weekend" (1967), "Thelma & Louise" and "Natural Born Killers". Both Nicholas Cage and Laura Dern give amazing performances. Dern's character Lula is the complete opposite of Sandy in "Blue Velvet", cause she's so wild and sexual. But Lula still has a naive child like charm. It seems that actor Nicholas Cage was born to play Sailor, a charming Elvis like ex convict who wants to change his ways. Also check out Berry Gifford's sequel to Wild at Heart, "Perdita Durango" (aka. dance with the devil) These films are both Wild at Heart and weird on Top!
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Hprog4 December 1999
This movie is along my TOP-10 favorites. It's a shocking experience and a proof of what David Lynch's movies mean to those of us who enjoy shocking movies. It's a love story told in a different way. Great acting, great music (from Classic to Speed Metal), erotism, suspense, this film has everything you could ever want in a good movie. Two thumbs up!
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Lynch attempts to out-Lynch himself
omelette00712 March 2012
Wild at Heart is not without superb elements, but overall, it's a disappointment. Lynch did what has been deadly to so many talented filmmakers - he bought into his own reputation. Wild at Heart is highly self-aware, furiously cranking up the Lynchian stylistic quirks with little awareness of the delicate balance that made former Lynch films great. Blue Velvet did descend into surreal, dark chaos, but it contrasted the depraved weirdness with common decency and compassion. Wild at Heart, on the other hand, is just a heady stew of violence, sex and bizarre happenings - very little here is recognizable as human behavior, and just about nothing as human goodness. If Blue Velvet was guilty of being a little too turned on by its own darkness, Wild at Heart is downright proud of presenting evil in a lurid, gleeful manner.

Nevertheless, if all you want from Lynch movies is memorable surrealism, wacky characters and delirious energy, Wild at Heart still offers plenty to savor. Parts of Wild at Heart do possess a mad energy and offbeat humor that is infectious. The performances are also highly entertaining - Nicolas Cage has rarely been better, and Dianne Ladd is hysterically funny in an utterly unhinged performance. But the madness of Wild at Heart all starts to seem too calculated, too soulless, and too ugly. The weirdness of Blue Velvet and Eraserhead almost always seemed organic, like a natural outgrowth of the film - Wild at Heart seems awkwardly scrambled together. Wild at Heart contains flashes of true Lynchian brilliance and a game cast, but they are lost in a nauseating, patchy, sub-par work.
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nickrogers19691 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This was the most hyped film of 1990. It was considered one of the coolest films of the 90's. I saw it once when it came out and the only things I remembered was the car accident with Sherilyn Fenn and the angel at the end. That's it. I saw it again for the first time in 19 years and I understand why. It's not very memorable because it isn't a very good movie.

Sure, there are some cool crazy characters (all right, they're all crazy!) and the photography of the bleak landscape is beautiful. David Lynch has also a cool way of using sounds and music which makes the film very eerie. Apart from that, the film is dangerously close to being a B-movie, almost laughable. It doesn't hold up.
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Inventive, bleak romance drama has power
emm11 December 1999
A real stimulatingly offbeat exhibition from Lynch is the dark and wild backdrop of a romantically engaged traveling pair: "Sailor" who is on parole after committing a brutal murder, and "Lula" whose mother demands her to return from a spoiled trip to Texas with help from a detective. It's a twisted, artsy journey that is often repulsive and long to boot (and certainly not for the squeamish!), but fares inventive at a certain degree and boasts some of the strongest performances ever worked on a Lynch film, perhaps even in 1990. Cage's concert act and the magically rendered semi-ending are two classic acclaims put together in this moving cinematic collage.

RATING: * * *
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Crazy at Heart
secondtake9 November 2010
Wild at Heart (1990)

An inventive, crazy, abusive, drugged up, violent, sexed up, romantic, anti-romantic, road trip pseudo noir campy intense up and down silly disturbing movie.

But is it any good? Is it fun to watch, or moving, or beautiful? Maybe, if you are pre-disposed. At times I was amused or bemused or fascinating or surreal in a raw and theatrical way. It doesn't always add up, and even though it isn't meant to, the movie feels so self-indulgent you feel like the style is used to hide sloppy movie-making. It's a campy mess, really, with a whole slew of episodic turns and twists. You couldn't really care less about anyone or anything. It's too comic booky for that.

Nick Cage is a bit too much to take, too...you might find him funny, or just overacting. There are some terrific performances--a hyped up, silly sexy Laura Dern, a hardened Isabella Rosselini, a characteristic Harry Dean Stanton, an unpredictable Willem Defoe, and so on, quite a quirky cast! A lot happens in two hours, and it has that wide open American landscape behind it. It's no doubt sexist, but I doubt any of its fans care a bit.

And luckily, this kind of highly stylized film has its fans. Surely the glossy saturated nightmare and all the sex and violence is has all the earmarks of counterculture hedonism. That's good if you're into that. But I constantly think how much more powerful it could have been. There are moments, and scenes, that are fabulous, really brilliant. But in the long run it's a lazy movie, depending on its weirdness far too often. For me that's not enough. Curious, but not enough.
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Not a 7 out of 10 movie
acase-115 December 2006
So after seeing Lost Highway and finding it brilliant I wanted to see more of Lynch. This one had a rating of 7 so I check it out (as I tend to avoid movies with an IMDb rating of less than 7).

I was disappointed. The creepiness of Big Tuna, Texas was about a 7, but most of the rest of the movie was a 2 at most. The acting is generally poor and the ending of this movie is just plain stupid.

The only other good thing about this movie is Powermad. It's too bad they didn't continue. What a great, technical, speed metal band they were.

I was left thinking about Lost Highway for days. This one I hope to forget.
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Not one of his best.
suzy q12318 June 2001
I much prefer Blue Velvet, maybe because it was new and shocking and original, whereas here Lynch seems to be copying himself, Nic Cage seems to be doing his faux-Elvis 'look at me all the time" schtick and Laura Dern just seems lost. The camera work is lovely, but to what end? It's kind of an empty story when all is said and done. As Emanuel Levy says in his book Cinema of Outsiders, "the shocks have little resonance, and the weirdness is trivial- the pictures hyperkinetic wildness is mostly on the surface, the images are elaborately conceived but meaningless."
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Weird at "Heart"....
Mister-610 November 1999
No one goes into a David Lynch movie expecting a normal viewing experience.

But what do you come out with when you've seen a movie that cross-breeds a road movie with "Bonnie and Clyde", "The Wizard of Oz" and "Blue Velvet" (Lynch's previous film)?

Headache, nausea, dizziness and slurred speech, that's what.

This is not a movie, it's a litmus test for how far a movie can go and how much it can get away with. And obviously, the MPAA didn't let it get away with TOO much. But enough, to be sure.

As Sailor (Cage) and Lula (Dern) make their way through a bizarre world replete with oddball characters, twisted situations and nihilistic scenes of violence, it's kind of hard to juxtapose these with scenes of Glinda the Good Witch and Dern clicking her heels to get back home.

Lynch tries to make a joke of the whole thing: blood, guts, severed hands and heads and all, but this is the kind of humor you're more apt to get if you're into jokes about death, dismemberment and a lack of overall morals.

The only scene I did like in this whole mess is set in a dance club, where Cage roughs up a guy trying to put the moves on Dern, makes him apologize, has the guy get himself a beer and then jumps up with the band and breaks into an Elvis song while the girls in the club squeal and scream for joy. Seeing Cage sing like Elvis is worth the price of admission itself.


One star. For sheer guts, this movie has no equals, thank goodness. But though it's "Wild at Heart", its "Heart" is not in the right place. Just like its brain.
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A typical Lynch film - I'll leave it to you to decide if that's a good thing or bad thing
bob the moo21 March 2004
Almost two years after beating a man to death in a fight, Sailor is released from prison and restarts his relationship with Lula - much to the disapproval of Lula's mother. When Sailor and Lula break parole and head for California, she hires a hitman after them to kill Sailor. Unaware of this, Sailor and Lula continue west, encountering all manner of weird and wonderful people on their way.

I first tried to watch this when it first came on television, but I was watching it with family and felt uncomfortable with the nudity and turned it off. Years later I have seen many other Lynch films, have loved Twin Peaks and looked forward to a chance to watch it. I sat to watch it aware of the basic plot and that it was to be full of references to Wizard of Oz, but I wasn't prepared for the biggest surprise - that it just wasn't that good a film. I am not adverse to Lynch's universe of weird characters but I don't like it when I get the feeling that he is simply being weird for the sake of it.

Certainly that seemed to be the case here: the plot is so loose and meaningless to almost be pointless even as a frame for weirdness - which is what it really is. The references to Wizard of Oz are all there but, rather than being part of the film, they are stuck in with clumsiness all the way - they seem like a gimmicky afterthought rather than a carefully scripted part of the film. The plot is more a collected of the usual Lynchian weirdness and gore. Sometimes this works really well when it is framed within an engaging film, but here the characters, images and action are all just left drifting in a relatively empty film. It's a shame because I really like many of Lynch's films and was looking forward to this, but even I am forced to admit that this film just isn't that good.

The cast features many of Lynch regulars, but many seem to be lost due to the fact that they haven't got the material to do their stuff within. Cage is really quite good despite his simple character. Dern is given more to do but comes across rather hammy with it - her character should have had the emotional buy in to the film but she can't deliver it. Turns from Dafoe, Stanton, Rossellini, Fenn, Glover and others are all good but they exist as free floating weird characters rather than part of the film in the way I would have liked.

Overall this is a typical Lynchian film in it's imagery, weird characters, strange story and violent/sexual content. Usually these would be good things in this context but here they aren't put together very well creating a film that, although worth seeing and weirdly fascinating, is not actually that good a film.
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More Pointless Nonsense from the Master
Tiger_Mark17 April 2002
Wow! Let me think, what was the point of this film? Oh, I know, NOTHING! More David Lynch nonsense. The movie tells the story of two star crossed lovers that must go out on the road, so Lynch can use his lighting a match in the dark, headlights at night, and other lame trademarks. Typical Lynch, you keep wondering if there is a point out there, anywhere, but there is not. It is simply Lynch trying to make a cool movie. Using cool actors and cool music to make a cool waste of time. Why doesn't this guy just make music videos?
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Oh Dear.
pullen1828 December 2000
What can I say about this film??? Well whoever view's this film after "Jurassic Park" will never look at Laura Dern the same again!!! I did not like this film at all.It dragged and dragged and dragged Mr. Lynch could of ended the film long before his "Wizard of Oz" ending, I know this is because of continuity (Wicked Witch, The tapping of the Shoes) but shame on Lynch for such a unsatisfactory ending. I'm probably the only one I know who didn't like this film, one friend of mine described it well by saying it was "Dripping With Ick"!!!!! There are also links with the life of Sailor (Cage) with a certain Elvis Presley's early years (Wardrobe, his job as a truck driver and his voice) and I believe Lula (Dern) with Marilyn Monroe (Wardrobe, accent again). I thought the film would kick-ass after the first scene but it just drifted away into the Hollywood Archives or late night T.V listings!!!! Sorry but a poor 5/10.
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One Of The Best - And Probably Craziest - Road Movies Of All Time
gogoschka-111 February 2018
Typical David Lynch (translate: fantastic visuals, crazy characters and scenes and great music). Yet unlike many of his other movies, this one is easy to follow and not quite as surreal. Cage and Dern are marvelous, but the best performance comes from Willem Dafoe as Bobby Peru. One of the best road movies (and probably the craziest). 9 stars out of 10.

In case you're interested in more underrated masterpieces, here's some of my favorites:

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what were they thinking
hillbillycavewoman25 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I really like Nick Cage, so I ran out and rented "Wild At heart" as soon as I realized he was in it.

What a mistake. This movie is one of the worst I have ever seen, hands down. So just how bad is it? Well....

Thinking perhaps I was hasty in hating it, I rented it again, years later.

What a huh-YOODGE waste of time! You know how sometimes you keep watching an awful movie, hoping in the end it will somehow get a skosche better, or that at least something will be explained/justified, so that your time has not been wasted? Only then it never does, and as the credits roll you wonder out loud why you watched the thing? Well "Wild At Heart" is that kind of movie.

Again thinking I must be wrong; no Nick Cage movie could be that ridiculously bad, I rented it again, and this time instructed my teenage kids to watch it, and tell me what they thought of it. I did this WITHOUT FIRST TELLING THEM< OR INDICATING IN ANY WAY, WHAT I ALREADY THOUGHT OF THE MOVIE. Well guess what. My daughter came back with eyes wide and lips wrinkled in disgusted amazement, proclaiming, "That's the worst movie I've ever seen!" Her older brother demanded of me why I made him watch such a terrible movie.

There, see? no spoilers. Just rank opinion.

Okay, here's one, or a few: The staring-at-the-vomit scene..we, the audience, are the ones made to do the staring... and returning to it again as the days go by and it gathers flies..now there's a treat. Oh, but it's an artsy movie! It's got a vomit-staring scene in it! It has references to the Wizard of Oz! It has a lady with an untweezed mono-brow in it! Yep, sure is artsy. How avant-garde. What a meaningful film.

What a load of manure.

Look, if you don't enjoy staring and staring at a splat of vomit, you won't like this movie.

'Nuff said.
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A certain amount of fear, as well as things to dream about
chaos-rampant22 April 2016
This is how Lynch described his attraction to Gifford's book. It speaks just as well about every other film he made of course where a certain amount of fear makes the things to dream about stand out from the night as all the more urgent.

It has enough going for it either way; a road movie given to us with a gonzo eye, crime and anguish as kitchen- sink ritual, archetypally American male and female avatars of sexual youth, a sense of wanting to just love but the world is a wicked place, and if that's not enough something else will come along in the next scene.

It was awarded the top prize that year at Cannes. I would have to guess that the French saw some of this as archetypally tweaked America, quintessential in the fracture. It's the same audience that was going to receive Pulp Fiction with plaudits in a few years.

And this is the whole thing. At this point Lynch could still be thought of as one among the quirky bunch that included the Coens, Stone and soon Tarantino. But can he be thought of as one of them now? No indeed and that's how much he has evolved.

What sets Lynch apart is that others create movies as self-enclosed worlds; for Lynch it's rather one larger, open-ended world that he carries with him everywhere and now and then summons some part of it in movie form.

The Coens for example, who are closest to him in several ways, both work with metaphysics and indulge loves for song, noir and dreams. Blue Velvet and Raizing Arizona, I can't think of one without the other, both with a dreamlike noir engine that skewers idyllic middle America. But the Coens think up a story and cleanly work out its mechanism, Lynch's work seems to come from prolonged stays in meditative habitation of that world. They are intellectuals, he's spiritual (not the same as pious).

Except this one came from a book Lynch was given while finishing the Twin Peaks pilot and decided to do; not so much summoned from his world as he visited someone else's and came back with impressions. Now in my third viewing, it continues to be my least favorite of his post- Velvet long works that constitute the Lynch world but still one of the most endearing messes I know. It's Lynch letting out steam more than anything.

But I'll keep with me the powerful noir engine that creates the fearful dreaming; two women, mother and daughter, who are traumatized by something they (she) allowed to happen (rape, husband's murder) and this is now spilling and surging through the film as helplessness to resist evil (most notably seen in the helplessness to avert the PI's death and the Bobby Peru scene).

It does show Lynch as a humanist filmmaker, not a cynic, and that alone elevates it above mere carnage.
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Worst Lynch Film
simsburyjet7 November 2005
This is the 5th Lynch movie I have seen...I enjoyed the other 4 but did not like this one. I especially did not like Laura Dern in this and Nicholas Cage reminded me of his Raising Arizona performance. I did like all the other characters but the main stars ruined this for me.

Where in the other Lynch movies I did not want them to end..This one bored me and I did not care about the ending at all. Laura Dern is so awful compared to Patricia Arquette in Lost Highway..

While watching this movie though I kept thinking that it looked and felt a lot like Pulp Fiction but not nearly as interesting. My rankings of Lynch films 1. Muholland Drive 2. Lost Highway 3. Blue Velvet 4. Twin Peaks 5. Wild at Heart.
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