Something Wild (1986)


Jonathan Demme directs Melanie Griffith, Jeff Daniels and Ray Liotta in this American road movie where a sweet couple of just-mets break the law, attend a reunion and get cornered by a violent ex.

Now here’s a film I probably should have watched years ago. It feels like an adult John Hughes movie (WOW!) then Ray Liotta turns up and it becomes something even darker and violent without losing any of that quirky, pop charm. You could watch it in a 1986 triple bill with Ferris Bueller and Blue Velvet, with Something Wild managing to be the perfect bridge between those two disparate greats. If I watched it on release I reckon this would be a personal favourite, and despite a certain scatty slightness to proceedings and a few scenes that don’t work quite as well, nostalgia and energy would keep it high in my personal esteem. I’m actually gutted I’ve caught Something Wild so late in life (don’t worry I’m not dying) and of all the brilliant films I’ve watched this week Jonathan Demme’s crazy, colourful weekend fling pic is the one I want to watch straightaway again. The soundtrack is a still hip marvel, the cast a rogue’s gallery of cult faces. Tracey Walter, John Waters and Jack Gilpin all pop up. Ray Liotta lands his first significant movie blow here – a charismatic but deadly psycho who turns the film on a hinge when he arrives. Jeff Daniels is fine as the Everyman whose minor rebellions lead him away from a path of sadness and to an unexpected jolt of attraction and self determination. Melanie Griffith is a revelation though. I always enjoyed her in Body Double, Working Girl and Cecil B Demented but here she shows chops beyond her lovely Betty Boop voice and sex appeal. It like finding the missing jigsaw piece in the puzzle of her success. Her Lulu is an iconic star turn. I get the feeling this will get rewatched a few times this year, mainly to be seduced by her bipolar siren and the below score will rise until familarity breeds into blissful movie heaven content.


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