Desperately Seeking Susan / Something Wild Susan Seidelman / Jonathan Demme

Desperately Seeking Susan / Something Wild Susan Seidelman / Jonathan Demme

Two ’80s icons that trade on the indie demimonde, both feature a wild woman shaking up some mousy wallflower but only one keeps the faith with its female hellraiser. The more famous of the two is of course, Desperately Seeking Susan, which gave Madonna her only decent screen credit; she’s wander-lusting drifter Susan, who writes the passionate personal ads that beguile repressed housewife Roberta (Rosanna Arquette). When Arquette goes to one of Susan’s supposed rendezvous, she bumps her head and through circumstances too tortuous to enumerate here is mistaken for Susan, leading to complications. A thin premise perhaps but director Susan Seidelman proves highly adept at whipping up the froth and layering it with downtown hipster attitude that gives the film novelty. And it takes the female characters all the way: they don’t have to renounce their desires. A more confused take on the same theme is Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild. This posits what happens when the desperately uncool Charlie (Jeff Daniels) is picked up by crazy free spirit Lulu (Melanie Griffith), who drags him against his will on a cross-country journey of bad behaviour and unpaid restaurant bills. But Lulu seems slightly wounded, a matter compounded when they meet up with her thuggish old flame Ray (Ray Liotta) and he sours the trip with violence. The film can’t decide whether it’s in or out of the rebel girl’s spirit, and the ending doesn’t exactly sharpen its position. Still, Demme proves as adept as Seidelman at nailing the hipster milieu and a good script by E. Max Frye gives the film some emotional heft. It’s not entirely sure of what it’s saying but it’ll keep you watching anyway. (MGM)