Title: Our Wild Hearts
Director: Ricky Schroder
Starring: Cambrie Schroder, Ricky Schroder, Angela Lindvall and Chris Massoglia
While a shared interest and passion can truly bond long-lost relatives, struggling to keep them safe and trying to prevent them from making mistakes at the same time can put a strain on the relationship just as quickly. That’s certainly the case with the two lead characters in the new family western, ‘Our Wild Hearts,’ which is set to be released tomorrow on DVD and VOD. The film’s overprotective father and his teenage daughter, who just came to find out about each other, instantly bond over their shared love for horses, but are quick to discover that their different approaches to caring for the animal can also tear them apart.
‘Our Wild Hearts’ follows Willow (Cambrie Schroder), a determined young teenager who’s obsessed with the idea of meeting the father she never knew. She persuades her mother, Katie (Angela Lindvall), to finally talk about and reveal who her father is. Willow ultimately decides to leave her pampered life in Malibu to travel to the Sierra Nevada mountains, where she pays a surprise visit to Jack (Ricky Schroder), a rugged cowboy who has no idea he’s a father. As the two struggle to bond, Willow makes a connection with a wild mustang, Bravo, who Jack is desperate to capture and tame, in an effort to keep his ranch financially secure.
Willow is convinced Bravo needs to be free, however, and begs her new-found father not to sell the horse to a ranch in Texas. With the help of local teen Ryan (Chris Massoglia), who works on Jack’s ranch, Willow sets out to not only save Bravo from captivity, but also from being stolen from Jack’s neighbor Grizz (Martin Kove), who also wants to sell the mustang. In her shocking new environment, Willow not only learns that she can’t always easily get what she wants, but also the importance of family.
Cambrie, who made her feature film acting debut in ‘Our Wild Hearts,’ easily and naturally took on the role of Willow, having approached her father with the idea to work on a family movie about horses together. The actress effortlessly balanced the character’s inquisitive nature of not only wanting to get to know, and develop a relationship with, Jack, with her determined fighting nature to protect an animal she feels is misunderstood. Like many teen girls, the young character initially appeared slightly superficial while talking about the latest pop culture while on the beach in Malibu with a friend. However, once she saw what she considered to be Bravo’s plight on her father’s ranch, and discovered that ranchers fight over controlling horses’ freedom for their own benefit, Cambrie emotionally transformed her character’s intuition to truly respect the well-being of those who can’t defend themselves.
While the natural, emotional bond Willow forms with both Bravo and Jack, as they all learn to adopt to their new lifestyles, the captivating visual effects also helped emphasize the film’s message of the importance of family and preserving tradition. Jason Mueller, the set decorator on ‘Our Wild Hearts,’ effortlessly used the beauty of the film’s set to showcase not only the life Jack has worked to build for himself, but also the appreciation his daughter has for horses, despite her culture shock. Mueller creatively showcases the characters’ feelings through the diverse decorations throughout the film; for example, the Americana-infused guest bedroom where Willow sleeps while staying with her father includes a picture of Jack’s parents, to highlight that he truly does appreciate his family, as well as an American flag that cleverly emphasizes his appreciation for the legacy of the horses in the west.
The emotional struggles Willow and Jack face and are forced to overcome are stylishly highlighted by the intriguing cinematography by Steve Gainer. Whenever the two lead characters were forced to contend with unexpected emotional difficulties in their newly formed relationship, Gainer would subtly darken the scene to represent the fact that Willow and Jack don’t know how to approach one another. One clever sequence that the cinematographer creatively played with the teen’s feelings of despair over Bravo’s capture is when she begins dancing in one of her father’s barns, and her face is sparsely lit. But when Willow and her father begin to truly form a bond with each other, Gainer would use full natural light to match their mutual feelings of optimism over their relationship.
‘Our Wild Hearts’ is a touching, emotional story that not only focused on the importance of protecting the well-being of one of America’s most beloved animals, but also building the important bond between a parent and child. In her feature film acting debut, Cambrie effortlessly balanced her character’s motivation of not only wanting to get to know her father with her resolve to protect an animal she feels is misunderstood. Combined with the captivating set decoration by Mueller and the intriguing cinematography by Gainer, the family western proves that the bond between people and animals can be just as strong as the one between a long-lost parent and child.
Written by: Karen Benardello