The teenage daughter of Christian goat farmers in rural Texas rebels against her arranged marriage in this half-fiction, half-documentary hybrid from Italian director Roberto Minervini, shot with non-professional actors performing in their real homes.
Contemporary World Cinema
Stop the Pounding Heart
Stop the Pounding Heart, Italian-born director Roberto Minervini's third in a series of films set in the American South, immerses the viewer in a steamy, overcast, and shockingly verdant East Texas town. His actors are real people — that is to say, they live in the places he films and lead a life similar to the one he documents. He has worked with them closely to form this half-documentary, half-fiction hybrid, in ways that surprise with gentle touches and complex social analysis.
The Carlsons, a family of devout Christian goat farmers, occupy the centre of his story. The film introduces us to their twelve home-schooled children who are raised in a house devoid of modern conveniences. The eldest daughter, Sara, perhaps anxious about her increasingly discussed arranged marriage, strikes up a friendship with Colby, a rowdy amateur bull rider. His makeshift bucking machine becomes a neighbourhood attraction, bringing him and Sara together in a chaste but anxious exchange of teenage need. The impossibility of their union reduces her to tears and her mother's heartbreaking words of comfort form the film's title — and suggest the true purpose of prayer for this most extraordinary family.
While some of the Carlsons' beliefs
may seem more than a bit outré — the
role of women in their community will
displease many — Minervini's non-judgmental
approach reveals there is also
a basic sense of human kindness and
decency at work, as well as a surprisingly
robust commitment to more sensible
values like organic farming, signaling
that our stereotypes may be challenged.