David Lynch's Wild at Heart is a wonderful "huh?" movie. You know those. They're the types of films that constantly keep a viewer saying "huh?" as the action unfolds. While “Weird at Heart” might have been a more appropriate name for this hurly-burly extravaganza of sex, violence, and obsession, there’s no denying that David Lynch for this film has foregone even the rudimentary storytelling he put forth in his titillating Blue Velvet and now just lets loose the crazy. Very few mainstream films are pitched as provocatively high and wide as this one. For those willing to take a chance, hang on and don’t be surprised by anything you see or hear.
Distributed By: Twilight Time
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Other
Subtitles: English SDH
Run Time: 2 Hr. 7 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-raykeep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 04/08/2014
You'll likely wonder "huh?" when protagonist Sailor Ripley (Nicolas Cage) tells his girl friend Lula (Laura Dern) that his snakeskin jacket expresses his "individuality and belief in personal freedom." You'll do it when Dern's mother (Diane Ladd) smears her arms and face with blood red lipstick. You’ll do it when Lula recounts the story of her weird cousin Dell (Crispin Glover) who waits all year for Christmas dressed as Santa. You’ll likely do it forty or fifty times during the picture. So, suffice to say that Lynch's movie, which won the Palme d'Or at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival, wears weird on its sleeve like a neon sign. That's all right, though. One doesn't partake of a David Lynch picture expecting anything resembling conventionality.
The Production Rating: 3.5/5
Unlike Lynch's controversial picture Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart isn't a mystery, so that sense of pervading evil that so imbued that movie is almost totally missing here. There are sadistic thugs and murky goings-on to be sure, but the bulk of the picture is ever so much lighter and more amusingly quirky. Blue Velvet showed us the soiled underbelly of civilization: mean and unbending; Wild at Heart shows us the essence of human compassion even in a cast full of misfits.
The story involves the runaway relationship between Lula and Sailor, fleeing his parole officer and hotly pursued by Lula's rabid mother (who seems fixated by Sailor's Elvis-inspired persona). Mama hires two hit men (Harry Dean Stanton and J.E. Freeman who operate separately) and a clubfooted hit woman (Grace Zabriskie) to rid herself of Cage's tempting carnality and her daughter of someone she considers unworthy. The picture is a series of adventures as the pair copulate their way through a series of Southern states. The story scripted by director David Lynch from Barry Gifford’s novel takes an evil turn (and loses most of its momentum) when the couple reaches Big Tuna, Texas. There they meet smirky, oily Bobby Peru (Willem Dafoe) who tantalizes Sailor into a holdup scheme that promises to net the couple some much needed cash. Sailor must decide whether to take the chance of losing everything or realizing a nice little nest egg.
Lynch has infused his screenplay with enough oddity to satisfy fans of his Twin Peaks television series (though admittedly the eccentricities here are much more uncivilized as befits the film's R-rating). Not all of his perversities seem necessary to the story, however, emerging more as peculiarity simply for the sake of being peculiar. The allusions to Elvis the man and his music, The Wizard of Oz (particularly overused and nonsensical throughout the film), and big bands (especially Glenn Miller) add another layer of strangeness to the proceedings. Clearly these characters depend on the popular arts for their reference points, but to be so all-consumed by them seems a bit much even for Lynch to pander to. Despite this, the performances are all memorable with Nicholas Cage warbling a couple of Elvis tunes, Laura Dern walking a tightrope between complete abandon and second thoughts about her choices later on, Diane Ladd (earning the film’s only Oscar nomination) in an all-stops-out performance of pathetic mania, and Willem Dafoe doing creepy as well as anyone could expect.
The transfer is presented in the theatrical 2.35:1 Panavision aspect ratio and in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. Sharpness is generally very good apart from a few scenes with softer focus, and color is brazenly solid without blooming and features accurate skin tones. Black levels are sometimes problematic though occasionally the depth of the black levels is impressive with shadow detail similarly inconsistent. There are random dust specks that appear but are not major distractions. The film has been divided into 12 chapters.
Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA
The disc offers both DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0 stereo encodes. I listened to half of the movie using each one and preferred the 5.1 mix. Its fidelity seems a little more present and firm with dialogue a little more forward and distinctive. The music by Angelo Badalamenti gets more play in the front soundstage, but the opened-out surround mix adds some nice extension of the music, and the bass is more impressive in this mix as well.
Audio Rating: 4/5
Isolated Music and Effects Track: offered in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo.
Special Features Rating: 4/5
Love, Death, Elvis, & Oz (29:52, SD): a making of-documentary produced in 2004 for the DVD release of the film, this features sound bites from writer-director David Lynch, original novelist Barry Gifford, stars Laura Dern, Nicholas Cage, Willem Dafoe, Diane Ladd, and Crispin Glover, producer Steve Golin, cinematographer Fred Elmes, film editor Duwayne Dunham, and others.
Original EPK 1990 Making Of Featurette (6:54, SD): a making of vignette shot behind the scenes during the making of the film in 1990 and featuring comments from director Lynch and stars Dern, Cage, Dafoe, and Ladd.
Dell’s Lunch Counter (21:05, SD): brief sound bites recorded in 2004 for the above-mentioned documentary featuring the same personnel and commenting on ten different aspects of the production from the original book to Freddie Jones’ pigeon talk, the filming of the “Good Witch,” the story of Sailor’s snakeskin jacket, and the surprise win at Cannes.
Focus on David Lynch (7:16, SD): members of the cast and crew praise the director’s open-minded approach to filmmaking and the freedom they feel working for him.
David Lynch on DVD (2:46, SD): the director thanks MGM for springing for a new high definition transfer taken from the original camera negative for the 2004 DVD release.
TV Spots (1:08, SD): four TV ads presented in montage form.
Motion Gallery (2:11, SD): a montage of black and white, tinted, and color stills
Theatrical Trailer (1:53, HD)
MGM 90th Anniversary Trailer (2:06, HD)
Six Page Booklet: has a series of tinted and color stills, the poster art on the back cover, and film historian Julie Kirgo’s astute essay on the film.
Not for all tastes and decidedly an art film in mainstream film clothes, Wild at Heart would be a foolish blind buy for any but the most devoted David Lynch fans. But if you’re looking for something off the beaten path with a gaggle of famous faces doing first-class work, the film is worth a look and listen. There are only 3,000 copies of this Blu-ray available. Those interested should go to www.screenarchives.com to see if product is still in stock. Information about the movie can also be found via Facebook at www.facebook.com/twilighttimemovies.
Overall Rating: 4/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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