Long before Twilight romanticized the notion of a mysterious boy sneaking into a girl’s bedroom at night to watch her sleep, Untamed Heart did it without being creepy. And long before Moulin Rouge overused the line, “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return,” to a ridiculous degree, Untamed Heart used it in the most devastatingly beautiful way imaginable.
I’m just going to come out and say it: Untamed Heart is the best romantic film I have ever seen. You’ve got to see it.
There are three things that make my heart ache with joy every time I see this film: The relationship between the two leads, the music, and the ending. I’ll talk about each of these things so you can get an idea of what makes Untamed Heart a perfect film.
What Is Love?
The main reason this movie is so good is that it boldly explores what love is in a way that no other film has. It examines the seemingly contradictory need for a person to be both self-sufficient and dependent on another to experience true love. The main character, a young woman named Caroline, goes through a lot on her journey to discovering what love is.
At first, she thinks that love is a solution to all of her problems. She just needs to be loved by the right man and then her life will be complete. But that’s not the way love works. The first time we see her she is eagerly awaiting a date with a young man who is clearly not as eager about it as she is. He tries to let her down gently, but her clinginess and disconnection from reality make her take the breakup like a punch in the gut.
I can sympathize with both of these people because I’ve been on both ends of this conversation. I’ve been completely at a loss about why a girl didn’t want to go out with me, and I’ve also had to tell a girl that we should slow down and get to know each other before she starts thinking about marrying me. Both positions are equally unpleasant.
Caroline is immature when it comes to relationships. She doesn’t like herself and she’s too quick to give up when something becomes difficult. But there’s no way to love like that. She needs to love herself first and be patient with herself and others in order to have a long-lasting relationship.
She begins to understand that after she pays attention to a seemingly mute busboy who works in the same diner she does. His name is Adam.
One night, Caroline is assaulted by two drunk men who attempt to rape her. This scene is terrifying because it slowly builds the tension as the two men follow Caroline home from work on a cold night down deserted streets. They try to make small talk and put her at ease, but all too soon their intentions become clear. She runs away as fast as she can, but they catch up to her and get the upper hand.
The men strike Caroline in frustration and knock her unconscious. But then Adam appears and beats the living heck out of the two men. He carries Caroline home and makes sure she is safe.
It takes her a long time to recover from the ordeal, and she is still visibly shaken even when a friend lightly touches her a week later. This scene is the turning point of the film. Up to this point, the characters have been interesting, but after this scene I am completely invested in the characters and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
It’s also a turning point in how the characters interact. The two leads soon open up to each other and form an unbreakable relationship. Caroline is like a child when it comes to relationships, and Adam is like a child when it comes to how he shows love. He hears that Caroline wishes she had a real Christmas tree instead of the fake one her family uses every year, so he sneaks into her house on Christmas Eve and puts a real Christmas tree in her bedroom. He doesn’t think about issues of privacy, trespassing, or anything else. He just wants to make her happy. Or when he escapes from a hospital and goes to see Caroline, he brings her flowers. He doesn’t even think anything of it. It’s just who he is.
Not since Rocky Balboa and Adrian has there been a more perfect couple who complements each other’s strengths and fills the gaps in their personalities.
Two years after putting the perfect capstone on the original crew’s Star Trek films with his unforgettable film score, composer Cliff Eidelman did another superb job with Untamed Heart. He captures the excitement of the hockey game, the sorrow of losing a loved one, and much more.
The music permeates the film with energy and heightens the drama and tragedy. During the attempted rape scene, there is the barest amount of music when Caroline is running for her life, but other than that, it is silent as a ghost. Only after Adam rescues Caroline does peaceful music return to soften the scene.
“This Time of the Year,” “Tom’s Diner,” “Try Me,” “Bad Bad Boys,” and many other songs breathe life into scenes in exactly the right ways.
“Nature Boy,” sung by Nat King Cole, is the film’s signature song. It bookends the film and highlights both the hope and tragedy of the story. It’s also where the line, “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return,” comes from. Untamed Heart embodies that line much better than Moulin Rouge did. That is the point of this movie. Adam loved Caroline because she brought peace to his broken heart, and Caroline loved Adam not just because he saved her from physical harm but because he was worthy of her love.
It is impossible not to cry during the ending of Untamed Heart. Adam dies peacefully in his sleep on the way home from a hockey game with Caroline. After the funeral, Caroline goes through Adam’s apartment looking at his old things, and she notices a present he gave her on his own birthday. That’s so in character for him. Anyway, she opens the present and finds his music records, which she plays as she reads his final letter to her.
As she reads the letter, we hear him in a voiceover telling her in the most poignant terms why he loves her. And we realize that this isn’t a tragedy after all because he got to live just long enough to give his heart to Caroline and receive hers in return. Yes, it’s absolutely heartbreaking that they don’t get to be with each other for a whole lifetime, but his love for her has enabled her to live a happy life full of love for others. She couldn’t have done that without his help.
You will never find a more touching romance than Untamed Heart. Prepare to be enthralled and brought to tears by it.
I love this movie. I wasn’t finished. I love this movie… with all my heart.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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I can’t help it. I just love this movie.
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I love it too and watched it so many times when I was a teenager then it seemingly disappeared. No one I ask remembers it but I certainly do and it will always be one of my fave.
Marisa Tomei is such a babe and her cuteness comes out all over this movie. I love and her and this movie lol…… and have ever since I saw it in 93′ which came out the day before my birthday in 93′ (funny). thanks for being Caroline……