Louden Swaine, portrayed by Golden Globe winner Matthew Modine (Short Cuts), is a senior at Thompson High School, and an excellent wrestler for the school team. He has high aspirations. Upon graduation, he is planning on attending college and then medical school. In addition, he works after wrestling practice, delivering room service at a hotel, and also writes articles for the school newspaper. Before he strives to achieve his goals of higher education, the 178 pound Louden wants to get his weight down to 168. The reason is, he wants to challenge the three time state champion, the seemingly invincible Brian Shute (Frank Jasper), who attends rival Hoover High School.
A short time into the film, Carla played by BAFTA nominee Linda Fiorentino (The Last Seduction) enters Louden’s life. His father, a role acted by Ronny Cox (Beverly Hills Cop), was working as a mechanic, until he punched his boss in the face for taking advantage of Carla. The Loudens decide Carla should stay with them while she saves up money to get her car fixed. The aspiring artist Carla, who is on her way to San Francisco, agrees.
The odds are against Louden, not only in terms of dropping the weight, but beating the undefeated Shute. Louden not only wants the victory for himself, but a number of others: His best friend Kuch (Michael Schoeffling), who thinks Louden is crazy for wanting to wrestle Shute, but is living vicariously through him; Margie an aspiring journalist, played by Daphne Zuniga (One Tree Hill), who is one of Louden’s biggest supporters; Mr.Tanneran (Harold Sylvester), a dedicated English teacher, who had his dreams of becoming a professional basketball player dashed; And Elmo (J.C. Quinn), who Louden works with at the hotel. He believes that Louden is capable of greatness, if even for just a few minutes on the wrestling mat against Shute.
Can Louden balance school, work, wrestling and a budding romantic relationship with Carla? Will he be able to drop the weight? Regardless of how hard he works, will he be able to beat Shute? All of those questions and more will be answered by the film’s conclusion.
Trivia buffs take note: During Louden’s first wrestling match, the Ewok theme music from the film “Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi,” composed by five time Oscar winner John Williams (Jaws) can be heard being played. The film was Linda Fiorentino’s feature film debut. Furthermore, her audition for Carla was the first audition she ever went on after graduating from drama school. The movie marked the first appearance by Madonna in a mainstream film. In a scene that takes place in a bar, she performs the songs “The Gambler” and “Crazy for You.” Wrestling fans might be interested to know, that Olympic gold medal winner and former WWE superstar, Kurt Angle, considers the film his favorite about wrestling. Oscar winner Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland), has a small part in the film as Balldozer, a member of the wrestling team.
Harold Becker (Malice), directed “Vision Quest.” The screenplay was written by Golden Globe nominee Darryl Ponicsan (Cinderella Liberty). The film was based on the book of the same name written by Terry Davis, which was published by Delacorte Books on October 25, 1979. Parts drama, romance, and sports, the movie has a runtime of 107 minutes. Premiering on February 15, 1985, most of the movie was shot in Spokane, Washington and featured many of the locals as extras. The film, as aforementioned, features Madonna’s music. In addition, but not limited to Madonna, the film’s soundtrack also features Journey, Ronnie James Dio, Sammy Hager, Foreigner, and Don Henley. The film’s score was composed by seven time Grammy nominee Tangerine Dream. The cinematography for the movie was executed very well by five time Oscar nominee Owen Roizman (Wyatt Earp).
“Vision Quest” is a film, I hadn’t seen for a few years, but I have always liked. The story is simple, yet inspiring. There are no scenes that serve as filler; everything shown helps to advance the narrative and gets Louden a step closer to fulfilling his overall quest. The cast as a whole are uniformly excellent, especially Modine in the lead role. The movie should appeal to viewers who like films, where the main protagonist is attempting to beat the odds that are not in the character’s favor.