Delivering a nonjudgmental ethnographic portrait of what many Americans might dismiss as “trailer trash,” Italian director Roberto Minervini’s “Stop the Pounding Heart” depicts a segment of Texas society where guns, livestock and the Holy Bible rank as the most important priorities in life. Likely to prove most interesting to foreign auds, this rural, documentary-like portrait reunites two faces familiar from Minervini’s previous films: Sara Carlson, teen daughter of the goat-farming family seen in “The Passage,” and bull-riding Colby Trichell, who appeared in “Low Tide.”
Though primarily just observing their daily patterns, the helmer ever-so-slightly manipulates his two “actors” to suggest a budding attraction between devout Christian Sara and free-spirited cowboy Colby. Beyond a bit of shy flirtation between the two teens, they barely belong in the same movie, which limits the pic’s dramatic potential. Where “Heart” excels, however, is simply in capturing the rhythm of life, particularly in Sara’s household, which makes time for prayer, scripture readings and home-schooling lessons. Naturally, Sara is full of doubts and questions, which suggest a rowdier path — a la Rumspringa-themed 2004 reality show “Amish in the City” — that Minervini’s handheld, one-take-only approach deliberately avoids.