The same year she won an Oscar for My Cousin Vinny, Marisa Tomei also made an immeasurable contribution to this romantic drama about a Minneapolis waitress who falls in love with a shy, quiet bus boy (Christian Slater) who rescues her from an assault. The two are an odd couple, but seem to make sense together. Unfortunately, the specter of tragedy hangs over them, as the assailants come back for revenge and Tomei learns about a mysterious heart condition that has plagued Slater all his life.
If I’d just read the script for Untamed Heart, I’m not sure I’d like it. It’s cloying and sentimental, and once the two main characters begin their relationship, the story has trouble with momentum. But rarely does execution improve upon the screenplay to the extent it does in Untamed Heart. Marisa Tomei is immediately loveable and engaging in the role, and she works wonders with some of the awkward dialogue. Slater’s character is mute for the first few scenes, which feels a little over-the-top, but once he starts speaking, he maintains a shyness without feeling so much like a plot gimmick. Writer/director Tony Bill (My Bodyguard) does a terrific job capturing the quirky micro-culture that exists among these characters at their all-night diner. Rosie Perez is a scene-stealing firecracker as a fellow waitress, and Cliff Eidelman’s piano-driven score evokes a sense of cautious optimism for the young lovers.