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By Matthew Pizana · December 14, 2014
Love sometimes is only good when it comes in the form of a chance encounter that turns the universe inside out. It’s filled with the kind of wild passion that gives a person something to live for. In Something Wild, Charlie stumbles into Audrey by happenstance. Bored with his corporate existence, he takes up with her free spirit falling for her in a romantic love story kind of way following that through to a bit of a Bonnie and Clyde tale and ending up full circle together in a station wagon.
Charlie’s (Jeff Daniels) life has turned dull. Nowadays, he only finds thrills when he dances over to the law breaking side of life like when he walks out on his check after having lunch at a cafe. Except, this time fate intervenes and Charlie meets Lulu (Melanie Griffith), a girl that was also in the diner, who calls him out for not paying his tab. Charlie is scared of her exposing him, but he quickly changes his tune when she invites him to take a ride with her. Charlie calls in sick for work and he and Lulu set off on an adventure. The two take to the road causing little flashes of mischief and mayhem. Things get serious when Lulu decides that she can trust Charlie enough to tell him her real name is Audrey. She has to tell Charlie because their next stop is to visit Audrey’s mom. Charlie slowly begins to realize that this trip may be less of a fling and more of a planned outing. After they spend time with her mother, Audrey takes Charlie to her class reunion. Charlie continues to fall for Audrey’s company all the way up until Audrey’s husband, a convict name Ray Sinclair (Ray Liotta), makes it known that he will have Audrey back for his own. Ray kidnaps Charlie and Audrey for a while, taking them off on a short lived threesome crime spree. Eventually, Ray and Audrey leave Charlie behind. Charlie doesn’t want to just sit by while Audrey leaves his life so he decides to follow Ray. While Charlie plots his plan of attack, he never sees Ray sneaking up on him. A fight ensues that ends with Charlie stabbing and killing Ray. Separated, but never far from his mind, after everything smoothes itself back to normal, Charlie goes looking for Audrey. He finally finds her and they ride off into the sunset together in her station wagon.
Throughout Something Wild, the movie rolls through a variety of different film genres. The story starts as a quirky romantic comedy. Two people bonding and being titillated over mischief, just a little petty theft for fun and a little sexual charge. When Lulu turns into Audrey, things turn dramatic. There is the relationship that Audrey has with her mother and how Audrey feels about her class reunion and where she is in the course of her life compared to her classmates. After the reunion and running into Ray, things are thrust into a quasi crime thriller as Ray forces the two to go along on his crime spree with him. Committing crimes isn’t that fun anymore.
Charlie and Ray turn out to be two sides of the same man. Though Charlie makes his money wearing a suit and tie while Ray makes his in a leather jacket, they both make their money by deceiving others. One just goes about his job legally. They both blindly fight for things they think they want even if their beliefs are nowhere near the same. Charlie and Ray can be blinded by their unchecked devotion, being loyal past it being a fault. Charlie doesn’t really know Audrey. He realizes that as he sits in her mom’s house. She has so much to hide that Charlie might never know, but still he can’t help falling for her more. Ray holds his love for Audrey throughout his stint in jail. He assumes that since they are still married, things will be the same once he gets out of the joint. If he really knew Audrey at all, he would know she might change who she is completely between lunch and dinner.
Something Wild is a pivotal film for many of the people involved. The director Jonathan Demme transitioned from romantic tales like Swing Shift and Something Wild to serious award winning dramas like Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia. Jeff Daniels started on television before having film success with movies like Speed, 2 Days in the Valley, and of course the cinema classic Dumb and Dumber. Something Wild was the first movie for soap opera star Ray Liotta. Because of his stellar performance as Ray Sinclair, he went on to star in cinema classics like Goodfellas and Field of Dreams.