Wild at Heart: David Lynch’s weirdest on-screen couples
It’s been 29 years since David Lynch won the Palme d’Or for his strange Wizard of Oz-inspired road trip romance Wild at Heart. Winning the accolade at the Cannes Film Festival on May 21st, 1990, the film cemented Lynch as a visionary filmmaker who could tinker with love stories as well as he could with tragedy and weirdness.
Wild at Heart also featured one Lynch’s oddest and most dysfunctional on-screen romances, highlighting the filmmaker as one with an acerbic vision when it comes to stories of the heart. Thankfully, Lynch continues to pursue strange love connections to this day and we can’t get enough of his caustic, challenging couples. Here are seven of our absolute favorite Lynchian couples ever depicted on screen.
7. Jeffery and Dorothy: Blue Velvet (1986)
There isn’t a single relationship or character in Blue Velvet that isn’t utterly depraved, perplexing, and dysfunctional and that goes double for the odd sexual connection between Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) and Dorothy (Isabella Rossellini). Hot, vulgar, and violent (including a moment where Dorothy demands her lover hit her and she responds with total ecstasy), their relationship is oddly still not the weirdest or most toxic of the entire film.
6. Bobby and Shelly: Twin Peaks (1990 – 1991)
The two young lovebirds (depicted by the ludicrously beautiful Mädchen Amick and Dana Ashbrook) are hot and heavy but there’s also a sweetness to their romance even though Bobby is kind of a showboating fuckup. The teenager at least knew how to help Shelly out of an abusive relationship with violent husband Leo and never stopped having fun with taking that bastard down. The two married and had a kid but as Twin Peaks: The Return spotlighted, the two sadly didn’t last.
5. Fred and Renee: Lost Highway (1997)
While their relationship is ultimately full of suspicion, apparent infidelity, and eventually murder, we’re at least privy to some of their sweeter (and oddly hilarious moments) prior to all that awfulness like Renee (Patricia Arquette) informing Fred (Bill Pullman) as cheerlessly as possible that she “likes to laugh”.
4. Pete and Alice: Lost Highway (1997)
Following Fred’s mental fugue, the second half of Lynch’s strange thriller sees him warping into a whole new character called Pete (Balthazar Getty) and becoming enchanted by mystery bombshell, Alice (Arquette, again). While the couple of the first half of the film don’t allow their true feelings to be aired openly between them, Pete and Alice are the exact opposite, highlighted in an eerie sex scene in which Alice delights in telling him that he’ll “never have” her.
3. Andy and Lucy: Twin Peaks (1990 – 1991)
As adorable as they are a little dim, Deputy Andy (Harry Goaz) and police station secretary Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) add a much needed lightness to all the murder, violence, and plastic wrapped corpses of their astonishingly evil small town. Their unbridled devotion to each other is beyond cute but their bickering over mundane topics and banal office politics also makes them surprisingly relatable and hilarious to watch.
2. Betty and Rita: Mulholland Drive (2001)
An absolute sapphic dream, the love story between Betty (Naomi Watts) and Rita (Laura Harring) is as tender as it is unnerving. Not only is Rita suffering a bad case of amnesia but there’s also a dead body, a mysterious box, and a bizarro club to contend with, making Rita’s Hollywood dream feel immediately damned and sour. Still, the comfort and connection they manage to find with each other is one of the most optimistic you’ll find in any Lynch film.
1. Sailor and Lula: Wild at Heart (1990)
One of the most offbeat and strangest romantic couples in the history of film, Sailor (Nicolas Cage) and Lula (Laura Dern) mosh the country while on the run. Sailor croons to speed metal and Lula despairs about the state of the country while listening to news reports on the radio – both demonstrate their love with a batshit wardrobe of snakeskin and leotards that show off their individuality and belief in personal freedom, goddammit!