Something Wild is a dark romantic comedy. Films like Tony Scott’s True Romance or Danny Boyle’s A Life Less Ordinary owe a great deal to Jonathan Demme’s quirky and violent counter-culture love story. Made in 1986, Something Wild was a jarring film experience, keeping in tune with the boy-meets-girl formula while still managing to keep the details surprising and original.
Jeff Daniels stars as the boy, so to speak. He is dull and straight-laced Charles Driggs, a man trapped in the routine of his life until he meets Audrey “Lulu” Hankel (Melanie Griffith), a free-spirited rebel with a violent ex emerging from prison. Audrey sees Charles pocket the bill in a sleazy diner and follows him to confront him. So begins the wild and often dangerous journeys between the two. It begins with a visit to a motel room, despite a marriage which Charles has thus far been faithful in.
This one slip into indulgence pulls Charles into a new world, a nightmare for the yuppies of the 80s in which counterculture characters live in chaos. Audrey has her sweeter hidden side as well, which Charles sees with a visit to her family, but violence looms with the arrival of Audrey’s husband, Ray Sinclair (Ray Liotta in a debut performance). This promises a confrontation between the two men drawn by the enigmatic Audrey/Lulu. Demme’s creative romantic comedy of violence seems ordinary for anyone who only knows cinema since Quentin Tarantino started making movies, but for 1986 this was an excitingly original blend of genres, with three spectacular lead performances and a cast of cameos and memorable supporting characters.
The newly restored digital transfer of the film was approved by DP Tak Fujimoto and Demme, and is presented on Blu-ray high definition with DTS-HD Master audio. There are new interviews with Demme and screenwriter E. Max Frye, as well as a theatrical trailer and a booklet insert with an essay by film critic David Thompson.
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