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|Index||146 reviews in total|
This movie takes a while to get started, but then you get involved w/ the story and the characters. It is quite sad in my opinion, but don't let that stop you from watching it. The acting is very powerful, especially River Phoenix who was a perfect cast. The only thing that I didn't like was the Shakespearean dialogue at times. If Van Sant had just make it modern then it'd be a lot better. Anyhow, I'm happy with the movie the way it is. Watch it for yourself. Way better than Good Will Hunting!
This movie requires about 10 viewings. It's a great film. It's in my top 3. River and Keanu were this close when they made it, and it shows. It's a great movie. Gets better each time you watch. It is sad, and that's why it's a Winter movie for me, not a summer or spring movie. It's good for the fall when all the leaves are falling off the trees. I love it. Can't wait for the dvd version.
Mike is essentially why we loved River, and I think My Own Private Idaho will be remembered as his best work. More than anything, this movie is about individuals lost in a world of strangeness and beauty, laughing and crying over the incomprehensible actions of others, and our own confused attachments to them. This is how I will always remember Phoenix, as ahaunted lonely boy in the middle of an empty road. You don't have to be a narcoleptic street hustler to feel lost and overwhelmed.
Mike Waters, (Phoenix in a haunting role) plays a narcoleptic, (an epileptic with sleeping fits), who finds himself hustling in the streets alongside pretty rich boy Scott Favor, (Keanu in his best role). Gus pushes the same technic he toyed with in DRUGSTORE COWBOY and goes that little bit further with success. It would have to be the best love scenes I've ever seen and the best adaptation of a Shakespearian play, (a portion of HENRY IV and a few other of his plays), that was ever modernised on celluloid.
This film, which along with Drugstore Cowboy has distinguished Van Sant as a remarkable director and perhaps even forgiven in advance the many foibles created with Psycho, is wonderful in its ability to strongly express uncertainty. It presents very powerful concepts, such as the alarming humanity of the homeless young and the transcendence of love and admiration, but it does not draw them into a powerful and definite conclusion. Instead, it leaves the viewer license to imagine and ponder, evoking the special thoughts that only art can. It is not without determinate moments, though (Van Sant's surrealism notwithstanding): the funeral of Bob Pigeon, the sex scenes, the clients. The mysterious allure of this film is that it blends such stark visual imagery with vagueness, presenting, not coincidentally, vague recollections of a happy childhood, and concluding irresolutely, instilling the forlorn sense of motion and questioning that the movie's story carries with it.
The independent cinema of Gus Van Sant is always worth a look. Some of
his stuff is some of the most interesting stuff to come out of the
States in the last twenty years. This is, in fact, one of his best
known films, and although this is a Hollywood film, Van Sant insisted
that some elements of independent film-making would be used. This was
always going to be allowed after a film like Drugstore Cowboy, and with
the theme of young male prostitution.
This could have very easily turned into exploitation, but Van Sant treats this plot with poetic regard. He's very soft handed, even in showing the crudest sex scenes, particularly in the ones where he uses the still shots, a very interesting way of showing sex scenes, that reminds us of Le Jetee by Chris Marker. The acting does let the film down a little bit. River Phoenix is great. He is exactly what Van Sant wanted, with the muttering way of speaking lines, and acting the adult child part made to do grown up things very well. It's the rest of the cast that is close to terrible. Keanu Reeves' performance is brutal. Watching his recite lines taken straight from Shakespeare makes you want to slap his face repeatedly. But this time, he is hardly helped by everyone else in the cast, among whom only Udo Kier can save himself as the German 'perv'.
The storyline was largely inspired by other classic works of literature. Scott's plot was notoriously inspired by Henry IV by Shakespeare, in fact they are practically the same storyline. But as well as that, we can notice and admire a strange similarity to Chimes at Midnight and Oliver Twist.
There are lots of interesting aspects to the story. The friendship between Mike and Scott, even when we know Mike loves Scott because he is homosexual, is for example really interesting, as would have been Scott's relationship with Bob, hadn't Reeves' and Richert's acting been so brutal. So, within the film, the interesting aspect that turns out to be good lies all within Mike and his problems, past and present. And, as well as that, his character and Phoenix himself, who makes the fact he is narcoleptic look cool.
The real wonder of this film is the performance of River Pheonix. He
plays his somewhat sad character with detached perfection: had it only
been his performance that I would rate, it would have been ten!
But now that is not the case. The film has a very good start and continues in a rather absurd and comic manner, with some very inventive film making. The story itself (the search for the mother) never really grips you, though, and the possible gay romance between the two main characters never becomes central, like in for example Brockback Mountain. This does not necessarily means that the film is bad, BUT after half the film has past it looses pace and the search for the mother never manages to "drive" the film forward. I felt rather bored at times, especially when the film takes place in Italy.
So I give it 7/10, because River Pheonix and the beginning are really good, while the middle of the film is bad and certain potentially interesting aspects are never elaborated to the extent that they merit being there in the first place.
There have been countless movies and books written about journeys of
young men through the crazy American underworld (On the Road, Easy
Rider)and Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho is one of the best.
The movie is the tale of two young American boys on their own separate journeys yet traveling side by side through thick and thin. Mike, played brilliantly by the late River Pheonix, is a confused young hustler from Idaho traveling through the Pacific northwest trying to find his long lost mother. Yet there is one tiny problem, Mike has narcolepsy and goes into deep sleeps whenever he is under stress.
Accompanying Mike is his best friend, Scott, played surprisingly well by Keanu Reeves. Mike is a child of privilege and is wasting his time away selling himself and doing whatever comes his way in the streets of Seattle and Portland trying to past time until his father dies and leave his fortune to him. The friendship between Mike and Scott is as real and genuine as the gay sex scenes in this movie and even though their friendship can get a little close at times it's still as true and American as Thanksgiving.
With a plot you don't see everyday, you can imagine the rest of the movie isn't the typical packaged Hollywood product, and it's not. The movie is actually an arcane, modern adaptation of Shakespeare's Henry V. It's filled with unforgettable characters, stunning locations, a script that would make Shakespeare proud and some filming that's as rare as a gay boy from Idaho.
Two boys on the road trying to find everything besides what they eventually end up with, each other.
I have never liked any of gus van sants films. Since seeing Elephant I
really couldn't see any chance of ever watching a film by him again.
Yet this came so highly recommended I had to watch it.
And it starts as it means to carry on, this film is simply bizarre and as many others have said the Shakespeare-influenced script and dream like direction threw me and became so monotonous by the middle of the film I actually stopped watching it. But I persisted and since watching it through I have to say this film is simply so unique that you will not forget it.
The sum of its parts are ultimately genius even if the script and direction irritate me it is only Pheonix who could keep someone watching. The relationship with (a rather good)Reeves is one of the best portrayals of love to grace the screen and I cant help but feel you could watch this film a million times over and still enjoy it.
I still do not like this film so much, but like I said before it simply sticks in your mind and I feel with repeated viewings it'll just get better.
Gus Van Sant has made a living by making movies about
down-on-their-luck people, and he always does a good job. In "My Own
Private Idaho", River Phoenix plays homeless Portland teenager Mike
Waters, who hooks up with affluent Scott Favor (Keanu Reeves). Mike is
often forced to be a male prostitute just to make ends meet. He and
Scott hobnob around, but eventually, things don't work out.
We can pretty much always count on Van Sant to make really great movies (although "Gerry" was pointless as far as I could tell). "My Own Private Idaho" may have been his best movie ever. Either that or "Finding Forrester". But either way, you have to see this movie.
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