Untamed Heart

(Tony Bill, USA, 1993)


Untamed Heart is a simple but quite affecting love story that copped a fair amount of derision on its initial release. It's not hard to see why: few films have so shamelessly plundered the current conventions of romance novels for teenagers, wherein boys and girls alike live for dreamy, ethereal, sublime sentiment.

Caroline (Marisa Tomei) works in a diner. One night, walking home, she is sexually menaced by a bunch of brutes. Enter her saviour, incarnated by Christian Slater – a shy, uncommunicative chap who has secretly been watching over her for some time.

Rather than dismiss him as a psychotic creep, Caroline reciprocates the emotion – and discovers just how sensitive and frail her guardian angel really is.

Slater's trembling, untamed heart is, literally, a weak heart – and, due to a quirk of his upbringing, he believes it to be in fact a baboon's heart.

Upon this strange and unlikely premise director Tony Bill (Five Corners, 1988) builds his weepy tale of a tentative, ephemeral love relationship. Only Rosie Perez, as Caroline's lip-smacking, hip-rolling, bad-talking best buddy, jars the delicate tone of the piece.

Untamed Heart is a modest but likeable film.

MORE male weepies: Message in a Bottle, The Bridges of Madison County, Intersection

© Adrian Martin January 1994

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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