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“WILD AT HEART” (Blu-ray Review)

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As a filmmaker who provokes curiosity and emotion through visually stunning narratives, David Lynch’s films are always thrilling to rediscover via high definition. With its last domestic release currently out of print on DVD, specialty distributor Twilight Time stepped up to the plate for the Blu-ray of one of Lynch’s most entertaining and colorful films, WILD AT HEART. With only 2 other Lynch films formally released on that format in the U.S. (BLUE VELVET and DUNE) and select Lynch works unavailable on any medium, this limited edition print is surely on every collector’s shopping list.

Luckily, Twilight Time does not disappoint with this better-than-expected transfer. On the disc, Lynch’s surrealistic and sometimes campy visuals strike the eye with stunning clarity and lush colors, while the revamped score has never sounded more stirring. To this extent, the production value of the piece feels heightened, punctuating the sillier moments with a more substantial and surprisingly logical universe to live within.

For Lynch fans, WILD AT HEART remains one of the director’s most stylistically disheveled, while narratively straightforward, offering a “Romeo and Juliet” story peppered with bloody, attempted assassinations, fantastical imagery, depraved psychopaths and esoteric erotica. The film follows Sailor (Nicolas Cage) and Lula (Laura Dern) as they together run away from Sailor’s parole and Lula’s deranged mother (Diane Ladd), inadvertently setting off a chain of events that puts both of their lives—and their love—in danger. The film is violent, erratic and passion-fueled, but it’s also one of Lynch’s most focused and clever films, riding the lines of derivative mysticism with inventive twists on cliché.

Of course, the film also benefits from its powerhouse cast; one of the strongest and most diverse for a Lynch film to date. Cage and Dern are absolutely committed to their melodramatic absurdity, yet their connection feels powerful and touching. Ladd, Isabella Rossellini, Willem Dafoe and J.E. Freeman all bring their own strange quirks (visual or otherwise) to their manic, hyperactive villainous performances. Furthermore, the allegorical cameos from TWIN PEAKS regulars like Jack Nance, Sheryl Lee and Sherilyn Fenn to quirky character actors like Crispin Glover and David Patrick Kelly are always welcome. The film is almost completely stolen by a restrained and ultimately doomed performance by Harry Dean Stanton, whose sad sack private eye is perhaps the closest thing to a relatable character in this cinematic fever dream.

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For the special features on the set, WILD AT HEART packs a punch, bringing over almost every feature from the previous MGM DVD while also adding Twilight Time’s trademark isolated score track. Regular Lynch collaborator Angelo Badalamenti’s score is perfect for revisiting, and with a crystal clear sound, one may get more mileage out of this track than initially imagined. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the disc however, is that the film is released with a “scene selection” feature, an aspect of home media releases normally forbidden by Lynch himself, who prefers the films to be watched in their entirety.

Twilight Time’s transfer of WILD AT HEART is exceptionally satisfying on all sensory levels. It’s funny, dark and magical all at once, and Lynch’s lavish strangeness has never looked or sounded better. For those on the fence about acquiring WILD AT HEART on Blu-ray, take the plunge towards “yes,” and celebrate Lynch in all of his gorgeous and gory glory.

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About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Web Content Manager for FANGORIA, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, a graphic novel and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
  • Must Try Harder

    Mr Hanley may be a splendid manager of Web Content but appears to be completely bereft of any ability with the English language. For example: “For Lynch fans, WILD AT HEART remains one of the director’s most stylistically disheveled, while narratively straightforward, offering a “Romeo and Juliet”…” – The director’s most stylistically dishevelled what? Film? Ouvre? Diorama? How can a cameo be “allegorical”, and what on Earth are “lines of derivative mysticism” that the film supposedly rides? Fangoria has a long history of critical writing that is both humorous, trenchant and sagacious – why are you now publishing reviews so patently fatuous and inept?

  • Dave Brown

    Well, if anyone isn’t lucky enough to nab up one of the only 3000(!) copies of this blu ray(which like the reviewer stated has an excellent transfer and ALL of the special edition dvd’s special features) you can grab a region free copy of Wild At Heart in the U.K. No special features, but the transfer is pretty good and it’s really cheap. Personally, I’m a special features whore so, while I owned the Universal Pictures UK version of this flick on blu ray already, I had to get my hands on the Twilight Time’s one. Happy hunting!

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