Set goals. Work hard. Louden Swain is doing both to a level that will change his entire life. He sets his sights on dropping two weight classes and beating the bad boy in town, wrestler Brian Shute. Louden wrestles with more than just his opponents, he wrestles with his heart, for he is on a Vision Quest.
Vision Quest (1985) is a cult classic directed by Harold Becker. An acclaimed soundtrack drives this coming of age story of high school wrestler Louden Swain (a very young Matthew Modine). Stuck in a rut, he wants to change his life and decides to throw himself into training to face Brian Shute, the state champion from a rival high school. Louden’s health takes a back seat as he sheds pounds, regardless of what anyone tells him.
During this intense training, Louden’s father takes a boarder into their home, the artist Carla (the gorgeous Linda Florentino), who is passing through on her way to San Francisco. Louden tries to ignore his feelings but slowly begins to fall deeply for the older Carla. Love begins to create a barrier between Louden’s goals. He and Carla must wrestle (get it?) with their feelings and what Louden wants from himself.
This 1980’s cult film was known for more than just Modine shedding the pounds. One word. Madonna. That’s right. The “Queen of 80s pop” makes her film debut as a singer in a bar, performing the hit “Crazy for You” as well as the deep cut “Gambler”. In foreign markets, trying to capitalize on Madonna’s popularity, Vision Quest was actually retitled Crazy for You. In fact, the soundtrack itself was renamed in some countries as “Crazy For You” for obvious reasons.
To this day Vision Quest is known more for its stellar soundtrack, featuring artists like Journey, Foreigner, and even electronica precursor Tangerine Dream, than for any of the film’s merits. Oddly enough, even with all that glam 80s power pop, the film was not a hit – which of course, is one of the signature traits of a cult classic.
Modine, now known to most millennials as Dr. Brenner from Stranger Things, does a great job as the determined Louden. And his workout regimen throughout has since become infamous to high school wrestlers today, making it a study in determination, as well as a latter 20th century model for narcissism Ultimately, Vision Quest raises several good questions for any young person creating health based goals for themselves.