Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern star in David Lynch’s ‘Wild at Heart.’
Nate von Zumwalt
As we amble our way—willfully or not—toward fall, another summer season of family road trips are banked for memory. Thus, in an effort to squeeze the last remnants out of (arguably) the year’s most blissful season, we’re highlighting a few of our favorite Sundance-supported road films—which has essentially become a veritable film genre.
Following the tragic loss of his mother, a wistful teenager named Mercer embarks on a journey to reunite with his errant brother and share the somber news. Compellingly portrayed by Lou Taylor Pucci, Mercer steals a car and heads south from his native Oregon. Before long, he hears from the victim of his theft and establishes an unlikely connection with her, receiving guidance during his voyage. Martin Hynes’s 2007 selection is rife with nostalgia and visceral emotion, as a young man strives to vanquish his grief on a meandering path to self-discovery.
The original log line from Braden King’s Here most succinctly captures the essence of the film’s artistry: “Measurement and orientation break down in an intensely visual, landscape-obsessed road movie that chronicles the relationship between an American mapmaker and a foreign art photographer who impulsively decide to travel together into deeply uncharted territory.”
Ben Foster proves masterful in his ability to depict the multiple layers and subtle tones of his character and director Braden King displays a deep understanding of physical and emotional space in this refreshing take on the romantic road film. Here was a featured project at the 2007 Sundance Institute Screenwriters and Directors Labs and premiered at the 2011 Festival.
The premise is quotidian enough: Two young lovers set out for California to evade a disapproving mother. But in traditional Lynchian fashion, Wild at Heart is imbued with a macabre aesthetic and general murkiness, turning a classic tale of young love into a disturbing and much more sinister film. Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern star as a couple faced with eluding countless killers hired by the latter’s psychopathic mother, played by Diane Ladd.
Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’s debut feature is a familiar inclusion in our Sundance-supported films list—a true testament to its versatility. Richard Hoover (Greg Kinnear) is an aspiring motivational speaker at the helm—quite literally—of a family road trip to California to see his daughter, Olive (Abigail Breslin), compete in the finals of a beauty pageant. While at times misguided, Hoover exudes the fervor and visceral adoration only found in a father’s love for his daughter. Paul Dano, Steve Carell, Alan Arkin, and Toni Collete round out a brilliant cast and form an amalgam of peculiar personalities in this hilarious road film.