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Föreningen Film i Malmö presents
WILD AT HEART
Despite its many dark and twisted elements, Wild At Heart is essentially a love story. Plot-wise it’s the most linear of Lynch’s films, with only a few elements that will leave you with a sense of what-the-hell-was-that-about. The young Cage is astounding as Sailor, channeling Elvis into a performance that’s all heavy romance, dark brooding intensity and perfectly delivered catch-phrases. Dafoe and Ladd, too, are impressive in their stunningly contrived evilness. Dern’s Lula leaves a little something to be desired; she descends too easily into whininess, not quite matching up to her lover’s iconic coolness (unlike, say, True Romance‘s Clarence and Alabama).
The meandering pace can get tedious at times, but cinematically it’s a masterpiece. Every frame is carefully composed, evocatively packed with saturated colours and long slow shots. Lynch’s script is also a standout; as usual, he’s eminently quotable (though how much of this is down to Lynch and how much to novelist Barry Gifford it’s hard to say). The tone is marked by a desire to really tell the story, but also by a light, comic touch. While Sailor and Lula’s love affair is taken very seriously, they are not. The film is never heavy handed and allows the viewer to laugh at the couple. A modern Romeo and Juliet they may be, but we’re not expected to forget their youth, their callowness, the faint aroma of white trash that clings to his snakeskin jacket and her too-tight trousers.
Like all great romances, this dances around the edge of cheesiness, with its intense sex scenes, serenades and meaningful looks deep into eyes. The same comic touch that keeps the characters bearable also keeps the deification of Love at a small distance. This is iconography we’re dealing with here; the overblown, poetic quality of script and cinematography ensures that the viewer never feels slapped upside the head with the need to believe in romance.
This is Sailor and Lula’s tale, not ours; unlike so many love stories, it doesn’t leave you feeling slightly inadequate for being content with a cuddle and a curry on a Sunday night. It does, however, leave you gagging for a packet of Marlboros. (Exceprt written by Nicky Falkof)