The Austin Chronicle

Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken

Rated G, 88 min. Directed by Steve Miner. Starring Gabrielle Anwar, Michael Schifflin, Dylan Kussman, Cliff Robertson.

REVIEWED By Kathleen Maher, Fri., May 31, 1991

Yes, I suppose it's wimpy to start with a disclaimer, but it's difficult to review children's movies without one, so here goes: This film is directed in general at young girls who are still in the horse-mad stage though puberty rushes upon them. They'll like this movie and the rest of us won't mind it. The story is based on the true story of Sonora Webster who was blinded in an accident as a sideshow performer riding “diving horses” off a high platform into a tank of water at Atlantic City. Anwar plays Sonora as a spunky young girl who runs away from home to join the circus. There she meets cranky old Cliff Robertson, a Wild Bill type who runs the sideshow and with his son, Schifflin, a handsome young man who can't please his father, but does pretty well with horses and young girls. This is classic Disney fare in that difficult questions aren't really examined. Schifflin starts out as a bit of a wastrel, but once our young heroine falls in love, he's miraculously redeemed. All this misty gold-lighting, nostalgia and sweet simplicity is kind of a switch for Miner who got his start directing a couple of Friday the 13th films. He does all right with this material, though. Wild Hearts didn't really get me crying, and this kind of movie usually does, but it didn't make me want to scream either, and this kind of movie usually does. To get back to an area in which I have some experience, horse-mad little girls, let me say that even though they'll like this movie and they'll fall in love with the marvelous grey that Sonora rides, they'll want more horse scenes. They're the best part of the movie and there's not enough of them.

Copyright © 2023 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.