Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Trenton, My Trenton: Carla from "Vision Quest"



"What, you kidding me? Trenton, New Jersey."

TRENTON -- Carla, played by Philly-born and Jersey-raised Linda Fiorentino, delivered that line at the 17:45 mark in one of the greatest coming-of-age sports movies of my lifetime. Carla is the smoky-voiced tough chick who's headed to San Francisco by way of Trenton to become an artist yet finds herself stuck in Spokane, Washington, after buying a lemon from a weasel for eleven hundred bucks and change.

I've seen Vision Quest 50 times and for whatever reason I never latched onto Carla's Trenton line. The only reason I paid attention to it last night is because Trenton-born journalist Kellie Murphy pointed it out after I found the entire movie at YouTube (how sweet is that?) and tweeted my excitement. Then she tweeted "it's my favorite sports movie ever!" I tweeted it's No. 2 for me behind the first "Rocky" and ahead of the first "Bad News Bears". Kellie retweeted that. And then she and I live-tweeted the best wrestling movie ever made. Not because of the cliche ending, but because of the warm, heart-felt delivery story of an innocent 18-year-old named Louden Swain and his around-the-block 21-year-old love interest named Carla. Not to mention the other characters who were played to perfection by folks such as Michael Schoeffling, Ronny Cox, Harold Sylvester, J.C. Quinn and among others, Daphne Zuniga. Quinn's "6-minute" monologue is worthy of an Oscar. And what a goddamn great soundtrack featuring Journey, Red Rider, Dio, Berlin and Madonna -- Madonna, during her Boy Toy era, performs a few songs on stage. The movie was based on the book. Author John Irving said "Vision Quest" is the best coming-of-age story since "Catcher in the Rye."

Louden is a 190-pound wrestler who took up the sport a year earlier and reached the quarterfinals at states. Not speed or strength, which he has an abundance of, but great balance, too, is what makes Louden tough on the mat. He understands the physics of balance in wrestling and wins matches by using an opponent's force against himself. Only problem is, Louden starts using his own forces of nature against himself, and everyone thinks he has become mentally unbalanced after devising a plan to drop 23 pounds to wrestle Shute, the 3-time state champion with the chiseled body of a Roman god, who trains by walking up and down football stadium stands lugging tree trunks on his neck. He's a beast. To cut weight, Louden trains like a madman and pretty much stops eating and drinking, which is bad enough, but then the blood of a bleeder starts rushing to all the wrong places after Carla moves in while she waits for Louden's dad to fix her car.

With a ripe 21-year-old woman in his midst, Louden starts to lose his focus on wrestling. Pussy consumes the virgin's every thought, and at one point Carla catches him sniffing her panties fresh out of the dryer. Oops. Louden Swain is a mixture of charm, brains and hormones, a dreamer who wants to be a coos doctor in outer space, a jock with tenacious drive and desire, a writer who makes meaning of poems during class and whose school newspaper articles are pulsated by intellectual curiosity -- even if his piece on the clitoris gets him and his editor busted. Matthew Modine plays Louden to a T. Fiorentino was beautiful as the tough artist chick from Trenton.