The City of Absurdity   WILD AT HEART


By Rob Townsend

Peerless Movies

Newly released manslaughterer Sailor Ripley (Nicolas Cage) and his lover Lula (Laura Dern) hit the road, pursued by all kinds of strange characters, mostly sent by Marietta, Lula's witchy mother (Diane Ladd). The staggeringly naive/stupid couple get waylaid when Sailor is rapidly drawn back into a life of crime by hitman Bobby Peru (Willem Dafoe), who tries to bump off poor Sailor in a very roundabout way. However, this being a David Lynch film, nothing goes to anyone's plan...

A bizarre, fast-moving, occasionally erotic road movie, best enjoyed by those whose tongues rest firmly in their cheeks. After the brooding drama of Blue Velvet, here Lynch opts for a blacker-than-black comedy where all of the characters are OTT caricatures of people that were strange in the first place.

There are some extremely obvious references to "The Wizard of Oz", right down to ruby slippers and good witches, and this adds to the overall feeling of pisstake - as does Nicolas Cage, who spends the entire movie doing a bad Elvis impression. Lynchian types such as Harry Dean Stanton, Sherilyn Fenn, Sheryl Lee, Crispin Glover and Isabella Rossellini all pop up for juicy cameos and then disappear as quickly as they came.

The two central characters, despite being completely bereft of brains or common sense, endear themselves to the viewer simply by their unquestioning devotion to each other. When they are finally re-united at the end, you are glad that Lynch rejected the original novel's more downbeat ending, as it is entirely fitting that Sailor and Lula get to spend the rest of their lives with each other (if only to save the rest of the world from getting involved with either of them...)

The sex and violence ratio is as high as Blue Velvet, if not higher, but this time it's done in an unreal, cartoon-like way; in Blue Velvet we share the eerie shock of Kyle Maclachlan finding the severed ear in the grass, while here, when a dog finds a similarly disattached body part, all we can do is laugh out loud.

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