Lula's mother is hysterical when her daughter takes off with jailbird Sailor and hires a hit-man to track them down and bump off the boyfriend. Unaware of this, Lula and Sailor are gloriously happy journeying to California (and breaking his probation) but realise there is something wrong when they witness the death of a car-crash victim.
The mixture of catcalls and cheers - the latter in the clear majority - which greeted Wild At Heart's Palme D'Or win at Cannes in 1990 is a fair example of this extraordinary film's ability to delight and offend in equal measure. Basically, it all depends on just how you like your explicit sex, gratuitous violence and eardrum-busting rock music.
Whatever personal sensibilities may be ruffled, however, it is impossible to deny that what David Lynch produced was a weird and wonderful twist on the traditional road movie. Unlike his previous feature, Blue Velvet, where the emotional charge came from two ultra-normal characters suddenly pitched into a world of menacing evil, Wild At Heart starts out from a comic book situation and just gets crazier.
Sailor (Cage) and Lula (Dern) are young lovers fleeing south from her vengeful mother (histrionically played by Dern's real-life mum, Diane Ladd). In a fit of parental pique, Mum sets thoroughly weird hit-man Bobby Peru (Dafoe) on their trail, while a few other pursuers, among them Harry Dean Stanton and Isabella Rossellini, join in the chase. Wild At Heart is genuinely funny, with its warped humour serving to deflate the genuinely gory moments.
Nicolas Cage does a brilliant line in fat Elvis impersonations, Dern is wonderfully good as the hyperactive Lula, and Lynch's breathtaking imagination, surefooted direction and bizarre use of colour all add up to a genuine cinematic tour de force.
Not for the weak of heart, one of the best Lynchian outings with some fantastically memorable dialogue.