Review of Something Wild (1986)

Moving picture, 114 minutes

Seen in 2017.

Criminal romantic comedy. A distinct four-act structure. Act 1, a fantasy of escape from the mundane into a wild weekend, is pretty dull. Things pick up in act 2, which peaks at the high-school reunion: The appeal of charlatanry is balanced here by a fundamental ambiguity, extending to Charlie, Jeff Daniels’s character. This ambiguity is leached out in act 3, which begins with the introduction of Ray, a black-clad cinematic psychopath whose role as the melodramatic villain to the white-clad Charlie is immediately obvious. Act 4 begins when Charlie announces his intention to rescue Lulu/Audrey in terms of wanting her. It resolves the romantic comedy plot in the mode of a thriller and features Charlie’s confession, destroying the ambiguity of his character and leaving nothing of interest. The look into “how the other half lives”, as Audrey puts it in Stony Brook, is neither realistic nor imaginative.

References here: Blue Velvet (1986).

moving picture fiction