David Lynch's relentless 1990 rush of highway madness remains a precious gem
Wild At Heart is more than just a road movie. More than just a professional apogee for director David Lynch, here transformed from surrealist auteur into postmodern colossus. And it’s more than just a proudly generic ‘lovers on the lam’ tale that follows Nicolas Cage’s mercurial and frankly ‘otherworldly’ Sailor Ripley, together with Laura Dern’s eccentric firecracker Lula Fortune (both career-high turns), as they dodge all manner of toothless, helium-squeaking, voodoo-obsessed assassins including Willem Dafoe and Harry Dean Stanton, on their way to sunny California. No, with its breathless, almost aggressively confident conflation of The Wizard of Oz, Greek tragedy, Tennessee Williams, Raymond Chandler, Freud, black comedy, exploitation horror, stylized performances, extreme close-ups, random cut-aways, musical interludes and straight-faced tender romance, Wild At Heart is a tantalizing glimpse of the road that cinema was not brave enough to take. The further we move away from it, the more precious it becomes.