*This review was originally published at Movie Mezzanine.
Stop the Pounding Heart, the latest feature by independent director Roberto Minervini, focuses on Sara, a 14-year old girl living in the heart of America, where bull riding is the pastime of choice and the Confederate flag can still be freely waved. She’s one of twelve children in a devoutly Christian family. The parents, goat farmers, home-school their kids, teaching them passages from the Bible. Sara and her family are all real people, playing slightly fictionalized versions of themselves in this loosely constructed story of their lives, where fact and fiction blend not to tell the story of her life, but rather to allow the audience to spend some time in her house. Short on expositions and heavily reliant on conveying the atmosphere through its vérité style, pale color palette, and a shaking, roving camera, Heart is a keen study of this teenage girl’s gradual, quiet grappling with doubt and her struggle to come to terms with her womanhood despite her religion.