As I watched Something Wild, I kept wondering when everything was going to go to shit. I wondered when Lulu would finally reveal herself as a pusher. As a young woman trying to make good on a hustle and screw poor Charles out of everything he’s worth. Strangely (or should I say, miraculously) enough, that didn’t happen. Lulu is a lady that falls fast, and Charles is simply trying to keep up. There are no strings, no rubber bands, just a quick love rooted in middle-aged rebellion. To be honest, I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a cinematic love quite like the one between Lulu and Charles. This is a remarkably refreshing romance, which, given that the film was released 26 years ago, is saying quite a lot.
Things start to go wrong (for the characters and the film itself) when Lulu and Charles run into Lulu’s ex, Ray (Ray Liotta) at her high school reunion. Ray is a perfectly charismatic psychopath, and given Liotta’s penchant for playing them, he knocks the role out of the park. The fault of the film isn’t in its acting, it’s in its execution of the material, which becomes needlessly unhinged as it makes its way toward a forced, overly dramatic climax.
After posting my In Character piece on Jeff Daniels yesterday, my good friends Dan and Steve highly recommended Something Wild. Having now seen the film, I can confidently say that Daniels’ Charles Griggs is one of the best performances of his career. The film as a whole, despite its many glorious eccentricities, doesn’t quite deserve such praise. B