Something Wild (1986)

March 25, 2017 · Regal Riviera · 3:45 P.M.

“Demme’s central work”–Keith Uhlich, Senses of Cinema

Charlie, a seemingly straight-laced banker, has his day–and ultimately his life–hijacked by Lulu, a funky New York brunette (Jeff Daniels and Melanie Griffith, both in career-best performances). What begins as a multicultural screwball comedy careens into film noir territory when Lulu’s ex, Ray (Ray Liotta in his first major screen appearance) comes on the scene. Lulu is not who she seems, but as we come to learn, neither is Charlie.

A sleeper upon its initial release, Something Wild is now acknowledged by many critics as a high-water mark in Demme’s eclectic career. Thirty years later, the film plays as Demme’s rejoinder to the superficial placidity of Reagan era suburbanism–in some ways this is Demme’s Blue Velvet. If that’s not enough to whet your appetite, the film also features one of the greatest soundtracks of the 1980s, including a multi-song performance by The Feelies (covering Bowie and The Monkees) at a high school reunion.

Something Wild screened as part of our 11-film Jonathan Demme retrospective, Life is Performance / Performance is Life, at Big Ears.