Metascore
52

Mixed or average reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 18
  2. Negative: 5 out of 18
  1. 100
    Starting with the outrageous and building from there, he ignites a slight love-on-the-run novel, creating a bonfire of a movie that confirms his reputation as the most exciting and innovative filmmaker of his generation.
  2. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    90
    Joltingly violent, wickedly funny and rivetingly erotic, David Lynch's Wild at Heart [based on the novel by Barry Gifford] is a rollercoaster ride to redemption through an American gothic heart of darkness.
  3. 88
    And yet there is enough of a core of sincerity to turn even the most preposterous moments-such as the film's dream-sequence finale-into something moving and true: You buy the feelings, even as the situations degenerate into the ludicrous and absurd. [17 Aug 1990, Friday, p.C]
  4. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    80
    Misfit cameos, apparently random asides and an almost continuous onslaught of unsettling sex and violence mean there’s no mistaking David Lynch’s hand behind the camera -- but there’s enough of a narrative to make this work as a straightforward road movie, too.
  5. The drawback to Lynch's pile-it-on method is that it is reductive. One reason Wild at Heart, for all its amazements, isn't quite as stunning as "Blue Velvet" is because it seems less the working out of a single fixed obsession than an entire smear of obsessions. [12 Aug 1990, Calendar, p.29]
  6. David Lynch doesn't tell stories as much as he shows hallucinations. Wierd, wild, excessive, obsessive, idiosyncratic visions.
  7. 63
    There is something repulsive and manipulative about it, and even its best scenes have the flavor of a kid in the school yard, trying to show you pictures you don't feel like looking at.
  8. As a story, Wild at Heart is even less coherent than “Blue Velvet,'' to the point where whole characters and subplots disappear into a murky haze at the end. [17 Aug 1990, Arts, p.11]
  9. Reviewed by: Staff (Non Credited)
    50
    A wacky, occasionally inventive road movie that fails to display the vision or the dark intensity of director Lynch's earlier work.
  10. The movie's initial intensity is so great, it consumes itself. By the time we reach the final scene, which is clearly supposed to exude glorious rapture between offbeat lovers Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern, it has all the warming effect of cold ash.
  11. A lurid hodgepodge of the ''subversive'' and the secondhand, the movie lacks the primal pop pleasures of Lynch's best work.
  12. This time, though, Mr. Lynch's conceits are less often pleasurably disorienting than out of focus.
  13. The best performance, the only one that can really be called acting, is Diane Ladd's as the mother. Ladd gives us a woman full of self-pity and shrewdness, full of sexual experience and guile, who has now reached the age when, if she wants to, she can turn off sexual heat in favor of cold power drive. [24 Sept 1990, p.32]
  14. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    38
    One of the most violent opening scenes in screen history…Yet given such a visually adept exercise, the rest seems transparently off-the-cuff. There are obese trailer-camp porn stars, heavenly visions, a climactic rendition of Love Me Tender and no-point references to The Wizard of Oz - all of which top this two-hour farrago like a soggy tarp. [17 Aug 1990, Life, 4D]
  15. The problem with the taboo-busters is that they feel calculated - in the past, Lynch's creepiness seemed casual and natural - and they take Wild at Heart so high it can't come down; the picture repeatedly jacks itself into frenzy only to crash into lethargy.
  16. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    30
    The first Lynch film in which his motives -- to hang a haberdashery of bizarre incidents on the merest hook of plot -- are apparent... What's lacking is the old sense of delicious, disturbing mystery. [20 Aug 1990, p.63]
  17. 20
    What "Wild at Heart" feels like is a kind of housecleaning -- a disjointed collection of images and odd snatches of ideas that the director couldn't make room for anyplace else. They have no context, and as a result, no power to thrill or disturb.
  18. At least (John) Waters cares about most of his freaks; for Lynch they're basically exploitation fodder for a puritanical "dark vision of the universe" that seems to come straight out of junior high, complete with giggles.
User Score
7.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 40 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 9
  2. Negative: 2 out of 9
  1. Dec 22, 2011
    9
    Wild At Heart is as David Lynch describes it, a road romance movie that takes you on a journey along a twisted highway in the modern world.
    If I had to describe wild at heart in three words I would say powerful, wild and romantic.
    It is very different to any other lynch films as it largely makes sense and has a lighter feeling to it as well as a few very disturbing scenes.
    The cast is star studded and excellent. Nicolas Cage, Laura Dern and Willem Dafoe are captivating. Diane Laddâ
    Full Review »
  2. Gnarles
    Feb 16, 2006
    9
    A classic, but only if you have the guts to take it.
  3. Mar 3, 2014
    2
    Hilariously bad. The film starts off with an interesting premise but it eventually gets drowned out as David Lynch just tries to do as much weird crap as he can. The end result is a grotesque, unpleasingly disturbing film that wishes it was something that it was not. Lynch likes to believe this is a remake of "The Wizard of Oz", but he has to have taken to much acid to believe that. Multiple random references that vary in how much sense they make (on a scale from no sense at all to a little sense if you really think about it) does not make it a remake of "The Wizard of Oz". On top of that, with some exceptions, the acting was just bad. Nicolas Cage was good in this, however, so there is that positive. At the end of the day, "Wild at Heart" is a collection of disturbing images with very little effort done to connect them. I love a good weird movie with a random assortment images, but there has to be some connecting factor but the leap from the much more realistic scenes to the weird as all hell surrealistic scenes is a leap I do not know how to make, nor do I think I want to. I wanted to like this one, but at the end of the day, I simply cannot. Full Review »