New-Release Tuesday: Untamed Heart

Past the Popcorn provides South King Media with exclusive reviews of Theatrical and Home Video entertainment. We aim to dig just a little deeper than the surface of what we watch.

I honestly have no idea when I first saw Untamed Heart, and I have less idea how many times I’ve watched it–either by myself, or with my late wife Jenn. Today is her birthday, though, and I’ll be scattering her ashes with her family later today.

Aside from perhaps The Fountain, I can think of no more fitting film to write about and recommend today. It’s one of a handful of titles I can think of that eloquently make the case that True Love is the sort that would still jump in with both feet even if it knew how short the ride would be, and how painfully it would end.

In this case, Christian Slater’s gentle misfit Adam becomes the gallant defender of Marisa Tomei’s young waitress Caroline. The tropes are somewhat familiar: Adam, Caroline’s first “real man,” has a big heart with more than just a proverbial hole in it, and comes equipped with his own personal romantic fable; Caroline has a history of poor choices, and really does need some rescuing; Caroline also has a feisty, wise galpal (Rosie Perez in one of her earlier roles); and while the romantic slant of the script is sweet, it’s also foreshadowed to be tragic.

The film is directed by Tony Bill, a filmmaker with a solid resume, and he’s really in his element with this material. The performances here are genuine and convincingly restrained. Caroline and Adam are so pure and lovable that Untamed Heart feels almost like a classic fairy tale. And yet they are so human that the story is squarely rooted in blue-collar reality, too.

Shot in 1992, the production featured a starring role for Christian Slater, who was already a household name. But Perez and Tomei were still coming into their own; it’s delightful seeing them both so fresh and alive over 25 years down the road.

In a stark contrast with last week’s Home Video feature, Perfume, Untamed Heart is a low-key, unpretentious film that is domestic romance at its weepy finest. If you’re looking for something thoughtfully poignant, you will make a good choice here.

Untamed Heart is new this month with Amazon Prime. Hard to believe this film is not more widely available!

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