In Vision Quest, Louden Swain (Matthew Modine) has just turned 18. He is a member of his high school wrestling team. While his classmates are content with just getting by, Louden decides to drop 23 pounds in order to take on the legendary Shute (Frank Jasper), the unbeaten state wrestling champion.
"Vision Quest" an Indian term meaning the search for spiritual enlightenment is a misleading title for this film. True to the spirit of the 80s, Louden's goal is not enlightenment but to win at any cost. Consumed by this ethic, he is willing to risk a college athletic scholarship and jeopardize his health to gain the inner satisfaction of triumphing over Shute.
Vision Quest is directed by Harold Becker (The Onion Field, Taps) from a screenplay by Darryl Ponicsan, the story is set in Spokane, Washington. Matthew Modine's affecting performance as Louden makes this coming-of-age movie click: he vividly conveys the protagonist's adolescent energy, vulnerably, curiosity and inner resolve. Some of Louden's intensity in trying to attain his goal is siphoned off when he falls in love Carla (Linda Fiorentino), a 21-year-old aspiring artist from new Jersey who is traveling to San Francisco when her car breaks down. While awaiting the repairs, she stays with Louden and his father. Rather predictably, Carla initiates our hero to the pleasures of sexual intercourse.
In his quest, Louden also receives moral support from Kuch (Michael Schoeffling), a friend on the wrestling squad; Elmo (J.C. Quinn), a philosophical short-order cook at a place where Louden works; and Tanneran (Harold Sylvester), an understanding teacher who realizes that his student has brains as well as brawn.
The commercial prospects for Vision Quest will be boosted by the rock music soundtrack for the film, with contributions by Journey, Foreigner, REO Speedwagon, John Waite and others.