It frustrates me when a film establishes itself with a strong premise; one that doesn’t necessarily allow itself to be obviously driven by the Hollywood standards, where things are happening but its pure essence is what remains rewarding. Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild began in such a way where we are introduced to a man with a flaw, which becomes the driving motivation and attraction of a peering stranger, and would fuels them to an adventure that slowly penetrates without plain deconstruction by external forces or inner obligation.
Charlie (Jeff Daniels) belongs in the world of business, one who is recently in a near-pinnacle place, with a recent promotion and a comfortable family. He leaves the diner from where he is introduced without payment, and it catches the eye of the free-spirited Lulu (Melanie Griffith), whom initially leads him through guilt in an adventure that he is certainly unprepared for. His guilt begins to dissolve and adrenaline and curiosity begins to take hold of Charlie, allowing her to determine his destination and experiences, during which along the way becomes a romance that is moulded with subtlety, an attraction that is certainly sexual but defined by far more detailed vibes that allow the momentary lingers and smiles to carry a sense of sincerity.
As it travels along, the film reveals in its own pace the history and agendas of its characters, we learn more about the two as they react and process thoughts, providing a multi-dimensional quality to their existence, whilst ensuring the accessibility and charm that comes with their enthusiastic chemistry. Evidently, Lulu needed a temporary beau during her High School reunion and a visit with her mother; and out of everybody in the world, her choice in Charlie was sparked by the restrained rebellion that loiters beneath him, foreseeing that hesitance in her objective to ensure cooperation would easily diminish when given enough stimulation.
It is clear that the film initially carries an episodic thread in the narrative, one that becomes more worthy of appreciation as it progresses along; but unfortunately, the film finds itself in an almost obligatory manner, as the introduction of Ray Sinclair (Ray Liotta) began to shake the foundations of the couple’s newly developed affection, a haunting past of Lulu that remains threatening due to Ray’s possessive and penetrating nature. It is almost as if the film abandoned everything that it valued in its first half, in favour for thrills and suspense that remain thematically and emotionally hollow until the very end. The atmosphere is no longer sweet and affectionate, but rather urgent and redemptive, an unnecessary tactic that becomes more loathsome as it progresses along.
Jeff Daniels and Melanie Griffith were fascinating within the film’s hour, as the narrative assists the emphasis of their chemistry and retain a complexity that is later lost in the film’s narrative and character shift. Ray Liotta was fitting in the role he plays, and I have no gripes with the performance he delivered, I simply despised the representation of the character, one that simply enter into a remarkable and alluring romance that physically challenges the characters rather than thematically and emotionally stir the audience.
Something Wild had me along for the ride until its dark and contrived narrative turn arrived in the laps of its characters, losing much of the infectious chemistry and sweet atmosphere that was effectively established early in the film. Oh how easily a film could fall.