The wildness of Lulu / Audrey’s (Melanie Griffith) temperament and disposition is exhilarating in the first half of the film. It’s this reckless personality trait that makes several early scenes (the motel room tryst in particular) so thrilling to watch.
A satisfying and distinct contrast exists between the unpredictable Lulu, the goofy Charles Driggs (Jeff Daniels) and the threatening presence of Ray Sinclair (Ray Liotta). Jonathan Demme talks about the incredible challenge trying to cast the character Ray. They had seen everyone on the East and West coasts until Melanie suggesting an acting classmate, Ray Liotta. Demme wanted to feel the imposing and threatening presence during the casting – he felt that with Liotta who landed his first feature film role in Something Wild.
It’s a rollicking ride in the first of half of the film and you clearly sense that the filmmakers are thoroughly enjoying the experience. The mise-en-scène is infused with the reclaimed joy of filmmaking.
A dramatic shift in lighting signals the introduction of the antagonist and the film takes on a darker edge where Ray Liotta’s character dominates the narrative. Lulu transforms herself into Audrey which is clearly depicted in her costume, hair and makeup.
The story opens with Charles Driggs trying to escape without paying his bill. But the sweet callback happens mid-way through the film in a pivotal scene where Charles says to Ray
Look Ray. Just to show you there are no hard feelings. This one’s on me.
and then we discover that, in fact, he didn’t pay the bill and Ray is screwed.
A second callback occurs at the end of the film; something that originated through a moment of improvisation by a bit part player.
It’s better to be a live dog than a dead lion
The tryst in the motel, Charles telling Ray that he’s taking Lulu with him, Ray’s death scene
I like the casting of fellow film directors, John Waters and John Sayles.