"For me the world of my imagination is always closer to the truth than the truth," Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini once stated. That sounds like something David Lynch would say. The director is an American Fellini bringing us our dreams and nightmares in vivid imagery, presenting adult fairy tales on the obsessions of our time, shocking us when we thought we were shock-proof.
Lynch's Wild at Heart won the Palme d'Or as best film at the Cannes festival. It follows his 1986 film Blue Velvet and his television series "Twin Peaks," which garnered 14 Emmy nominations in 1989.
Wild at Heart is a road picture about two young lovers traveling to California in a car. Nicolas Cage is Sailor Ripley, an ex-con just out of prison where he was serving time for killing a man with his bare hands. Laura Dern is Lula Pace Fortune, his white trash girlfriend. Her wicked witch of a mother Marietta (Diane Ladd) so desperately wants to get rid of Sailor that she arranges with a mobster (J. E. Freeman) to have him killed. Just for kicks, the mobster decides to have Marietta's boyfriend, private detective Johnnie Farragut (Harry Dean Stanton), blown away.
On the road, Sailor, who talks like Elvis Presley and even croons his songs, enjoys Lula's Marilyn Monroe-like poses and small talk. They eat, sleep, smoke, and fornicate. A car wreck on the way to Big Tuna, Texas portends the gruesome violence which lies just down the road. In this community of people stranger than the weather, they meet a very nasty fellow named Bobby Peru (Willem Dafoe) and his paramour (Isabella Rossellini). Sailor's confrontation with these dark angels is followed later in the happy finale by an encounter with a Good Witch (Sheryl Lee) who tells him to savor the redemptive power of love by marrying Lula.
Wild at Heart takes the archetypal road movie and adds inventive variations including sexual intrigue, ritual murder, pyromania, dirty talk, an ensemble cast familiar from "Twin Peaks," identification with media icons, and references to The Wizard of Oz. Into this mix, Lynch throws extreme examples of both depravity and romanticism.
At one point in the story, Lula laments, "The whole world is wild at heart and weird on top." True enough. If you agree, you can decide for yourself whether David Lynch's imagination is closer to the truth than the truth.