Untamed Heart (1993) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • A waitress hardly notices a shy busboy who secretly loves her; until one night she's attacked and he comes to her rescue. From there a relationship sparks but one secret could mean disaster for these fated lovers.

  • Caroline has not had much luck in love. Boyfriends seem to either leave her or cheat on her. Then she meets a shy, introverted man at work named Adam. When leaving work one day, two men attack her. Adam comes to her rescue. Unfortunately, retaliation by the attackers sends Adam to the hospital where he finds out he has a diseased heart. Adam is an orphan and was told he had a baboon's heart. He refuses a transplant, as he believes his love for Caroline is contained in his damaged heart. Before tragedy can strike, they have a passionate but brief romance. Adam opens up to Caroline and he, in turn, heals her broken heart.

  • Twenty-something Caroline, a waitress at Jim's Coffee Shop and Bakery in Minneapolis, has a history of not following through with anything. She also has a history of falling in love too easily with losers, who end up breaking her heart when they eventually and always break up with her. It isn't until he rescues her one late autumn evening from an incident that Caroline really sees for the first time how much Adam, the unassuming and largely silent busboy at the coffee shop, cares for her. Beyond not wanting to tell anyone about the incident out of shame, not even to her best friend, fellow diner waitress Cindy, Caroline slowly begins to let Adam into her life. Over time, Caroline learns bits and pieces about his life, and is able to infer why he is a loner with no family and friends, although she takes one of his stories with a grain of salt. She eventually falls in love with him, as he always has been with her. It isn't until another incident that Caroline learns the true situation behind that story with which she took with a grain of salt. This discovery places the two of them at a crossroads, where Adam would rather risk his life rather than risk losing Caroline's love.



The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • In Minneapolis, Minnesota, Caroline (Marisa Tomei) rushes home from her job as a waitress to get ready for a date. When her boyfriend, Steven (Paul Douglas Law), arrives to pick her up, instead of taking her out, he breaks up with her. That night, the broken-hearted Caroline commiserates with her best friend, Cindy (Rosie Perez), and fellow waitress, Mary (Marquetta Senters), at Jim's Bakery and Coffee Shop. Cindy forbids Caroline from calling Steven, and Mary urges her to stop being a doormat.

    Caroline returns to work the following night and finds Adam (Christian Slater), an attractive but taciturn busboy, wounded in the kitchen. She cleans and bandages the cut in his hand and notices his skin is covered in sap from his day job at a Christmas tree farm. Caroline laments that her parents no longer buy real Christmas trees, opting instead for an artificial one. She points out that Adam never speaks, but doesn't hear him when he whispers "thank you" as she walks away.

    In the dining room, Caroline finds two men, Howard and Patsy (Kyle Secor and Willie Garson), pounding the cigarette machine and complaining that it "ate" their money. Caroline intervenes, and Howard recognizes her. When he and Patsy sit at a table in Mary's section, they request that Caroline wait on them. As she takes their order, Howard reminds Caroline that they met at a Fourth of July party, where she got drunk and embarrassed herself.

    After her shift ends at 4:00 a.m., Caroline walks home alone. Howard and Patsy drunkenly speed past her in Howard's car and offer her a ride. Caroline declines. They pursue her on foot. She tries to run, but they team up against her and attack. Howard bangs her head on the ground until she loses consciousness and he prepares to rape her. Suddenly, Adam the busboy appears and stops them from further harming Caroline by brutally beating Howard and Patsy to the ground, then wraps Caroline in his coat and carries her home. He lays her on the front porch swing at her house and watches over her until she wakes up. Caroline jumps when she sees Adam, and he walks away without a word.

    For the next few days, Caroline calls in sick to work and refuses to talk to anyone about the incident. When she finally returns to the diner, she confronts Adam, asking how he knew where she lived. He admits he has been following her home regularly to make sure she is safe. He apologizes for being late the night she was attacked. Caroline kisses his cheek and thanks him. Later, Caroline asks Cindy what she thinks about Adam. Cindy admits he is attractive but laments that he is weird and never speaks. She pesters Caroline about her lack of follow-through with various projects, including opening a flower shop and going to beauty school.

    When her shift is over at 2:00 a.m., Caroline waits for her younger brother, Michael, to pick her up, but he never shows. She starts to walk home alone but sees Adam in the parking lot, and they walk together. He points out constellations and explains that shooting stars are meteors falling to Earth. He shows Caroline his basement apartment, but she becomes nervous when she finds a photograph of herself that Adam took from the diner.

    Two days later, on Christmas morning, Caroline wakes up to discover a real Christmas tree in her bedroom. She bakes cookies and takes them to Adam's apartment to thank him for the tree. He shows her his collection of old records, given to him by a nun named Mother Camilla at the orphanage where he grew up. He claims the records are magical and tells her about his sickly childhood, and how Mother Camilla told him his late father was an adventurer who stole enchanted rubies to cure Adam's heart condition. His father was killed by a "baboon king," but when the animal learned of Adam's illness, it removed its own heart and put it in the boy's chest. Caroline is shocked that Adam still believes Mother Camilla's story, but admits it is charming. She offers to cut his hair short and brings him back to her house. Adam recalls feeling alienated as a child, when he had to be quarantined, and says he has never been good with people.

    As she combs his hair, Caroline talks about her tendency to chase after love. Adam reaches out and touches her breast. She stops combing and leads him to her bedroom, where they undress. Adam breaks into tears, and Caroline consoles him. She whispers that she is going to fall in love with him and promises to give him her heart.

    Back at work, Caroline invites Adam to her parents' New Years Eve party. When he arrives, he spends two hours with Caroline's cat on the front porch. She finds him outside and makes a wish on a star, but Adam points out that she is wishing on Mars. At midnight, they kiss.

    Another few days later, Caroline goes ice-skating with Cindy, who is skeptical when Caroline admits she has been dating Adam. Caroline reveals that when she was attacked and nearly raped and that Adam saved her, but Cindy still believes Caroline might be selling herself short. She persuades Caroline to go on a blind date with a man named Ronnie. However, on a double date with Cindy and her boyfriend, Caroline expresses no interest in Ronnie. They end up at the diner, where Caroline goes in search of Adam just as he is attacked by Howard and Patsy in the parking lot. Adam stumbles inside the diner with a stab wound in his abdomen. Frantic, Caroline accompanies him to the hospital, where a doctor tells her Adam has congenital heart disease and is in need of a transplant. Caroline identifies Howard and Patsy in a police line-up.

    Another day or two later, Caroline takes a beauty school exam but is too distracted and storms out. Adam flees the hospital and surprises Caroline at home. She mentions that he needs a heart transplant or he will die very soon, but Adam rejects the idea, insisting he must keep his heart. He worries that he will not love Caroline the same way if he gets a different one, but she assures him he loves with his mind and soul.

    Sometime later, Caroline takes Adam to an ice hockey game for his 25th birthday. They have a great time, and on the drive home, Adam falls asleep. When they arrive at his apartment, Caroline discovers Adam is dead.

    At his funeral, Caroline tells Cindy Adam was the only thing she did not give up on, and claims he was an angel. She goes to his apartment and finds a gift he planned to give to her on his birthday: his box of records, with a note telling her he no longer needs them because all of his wishes have come true. Caroline listens to one of the records and smiles.

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