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A River Runs Through It
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Reviews & Ratings for
A River Runs Through It More at IMDbPro »

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6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Great Scenery, Excellent Acting, But Slow, Very Slow.

7/10
Author: aymanrizk from Ontario, Canada
5 February 2005

Great acting from Craig Sheffer, Tom Skerritt and especially Brad Pitt who portrays the role of the brother who is outgoing, loves life and enjoys it to the fullest as nobody else can in my opinion.

The movie, though, sometimes appears to drag on for no apparent purpose. It is very slow and although I gave it a 7 for a first viewing, I would never want to sit through it again.

As an example of what I mean, how does Jessie's brother fit in? and what is the purpose of including this part of the story in the movie? Beautiful scenery, no doubt about that. Worth a watch if you haven't seen it yet.

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8 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Wasted talent, wasted cinematography, wasted time

3/10
Author: jake400 from Cincinnati
6 March 2006

This film meanders about and never tells a decent story. The acting is pretty good, and overall it's very well-filmed, but I kept waiting for things to become defined... A nemesis, a conflict, a challenge, a hardship. Anything! Nothing emerged and the titles rolled.

Brad Pitt, who is arguably one of the world's finest actors, isn't even given the chance to pull this out. His character is really never shown in the grasp of his addictions and struggling with them, etc... It just never happens.

Another problem I had is the director (Robert Redford) injecting himself into the film as the narrator... Supposedly as the voice of one of the main characters, who actually has his OWN voice, which is obviously a different voice than the narrator, which is supposed to be him, but it's obviously Redford. Confused yet? Me too. Redford never struck me as arrogant until this movie... Narrating was a bad choice.

And the "fishing = religion, river = life, world = God" theme was a real eyeroller. The old man's narrative in the end was trying to bring across something of deep meaning, but it was simply nonsensical and brought no meaning to an already meaningless film.

But hey, if you like looking at really nice woodwork and fly fishing, have at it. You might enjoy this.

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8 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

From masterwork to mediocrity in one easy Redford lesson.

1/10
Author: johnbernardbooks (johnbooks@e-velocity.net) from Huntsville, Ontario
12 August 2001

The story by Norman Maclean is a masterwork; Redford's film is a mediocrity. He adds banal scenes of the Maclean brothers going over a falls and of them double-dating in a seedy bar that were not even hinted at in the story. The cipher, Brad Pitt, trying to play the charismatic Paul Maclean, a genius outdoors, proves either risible or depressing, depending on what the original story meant to you. Some of the fly casting scenes are beautiful. Also, Tom Skerritt as the father and Craig Sheffer as Norman are strong and masculine, as men were once expected to be. None of the women make an impression in the film, which is regrettable, because Maclean loved the women in his story and made this clear, even poetic.

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11 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Spent most of the movie waiting for it to begin...it never did.

1/10
Author: mkinder80122 from Denver, CO
10 August 2003

This movie has beautiful scenery. Unfortunately it has no plot. In order to have a plot there must be a conflict. This movie had none. It spent two hours painting a beautifule scene and failed to ever place any activity in it. The picture trys to be artistic but fails to pay attentions to the fundamentals of story telling.

If you love Montana scenery and fly fishing you will find some value in this film just don't expect a story. There isn't one.

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A Reviewer Sleeps Through It

5/10
Author: G Thomas Boston
28 January 2017

I have recently watched - inexplicably for the second time - Robert Redford's film, A River Runs Through It.

This movie may not have won a mittful of awards, but it has been recommended by the International Society of Sleep Disorder Orderlies for its powerful sedative effects.

Brad Pitt plays Paul, the ne'er-do-well brother of Norman, played by Craig Sheffer. Their father is a God-fearing-but-fish-tormenting preacher played by Tom Skerritt. The plot seems to be some sort of allegory.

For those who do not know what an allegory is, I shall explain:

When you have an adverse reaction to something - be it weeds, dust, pollen, pet dander, insect bites, or boring movies - then you are said to be suffering from an allegory. Treatment for such is a strong antihistamine which will likely knock you completely off your toes. Luckily, in the case of A River Runs Through It, the antihistamine is built right into the movie! You won't even notice your allegory!

However, as any exalted reviewer would, I must criticize at least one intention of this film. Redford likely wants the viewer to hanker for a day of fly-fishing. Rather, I found that I might welcome spending some time with my ne'er-do-well brother watching paint dry.

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Redford Behind the Camera

7/10
Author: gavin6942 from United States
11 June 2015

The story about two sons of a stern minister (Tom Skerritt) -- one reserved, one rebellious -- growing up in rural Montana while devoted to fly fishing.

This is one of those films that catapulted Brad Pitt to stardom. In fact, it may be the very film that did, since it was not "Thelma and Louise" and he was fairly established by the time "Interview with the Vampire" came out. So, good job, Brad! This is just a nice drama about two brothers in Montana. You know, nothing too exciting, but just a nicely scripted, well-acted story. And having Robert Redford narrate and direct is a nice touch. He really knows how to craft a story, making even the mundane worth watching.

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Slow meditative with the appearance of weight

6/10
Author: SnoopyStyle
31 July 2014

Based on Norman Maclean's memoir, Norman (Craig Sheffer, Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is the older brother to Paul (Brad Pitt) under their strict Presbyterian minister father (Tom Skerritt). They get their love of fly fishing under the regimented teaching of their father. It's the early part of 20th century in Missoula, Montana. While Norman goes away to Dartmouth for 6 years, Paul stays closer to home for college and then writes for a Helena newspaper. Paul works on his writing, hard drinking, gambling, and fly fishing. It's the spring of 1926 when Norman returns home. He is unsure of his future and starts courting Jessie Burns (Emily Lloyd).

With the Robert Redford narration and the long sweeping story, this feels like a novel turned into a movie. The good aspect is that it has the appearance of weight. The less good aspect is that it is meditative. I guess it's fitting for a fly fishing movie. Redford keeps casting the lines but rarely gets a good bite. It is in the casting of the lines where this movie exists. It's not particularly interested in having an exciting time catching fish. Even the big climax is left off screen. There is some beautiful cinematography especially with the photogenic Brad Pitt. It's a long slow beautiful movie.

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Wonderful movie true to a wonderful book

8/10
Author: Cbugenske-806-620537 from United States
1 October 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It is quite hard to believe, that a movie with so many hateable clichés in it, could turn out to be such a good movie. A River Runs Through It a film directed by Robert Redford, based on the novella by Norman Maclean by the same name, stars Craig Sheffer as the lead Norman Maclean, and Brad Pitt as Norman's little brother Paul Maclean. The movie sticks fairly well to the story for a story of this kind, that doesn't many many cinematic opportunities. Although a few details are sacrificed, it does not take away from the originality of the story. It also adds some of it's own, new touches, that help make the movie more memorable. The adaptation of the film, while not being completely accrete, is able to stay true to the story if that makes any sense. This is why the film A River Runs Through It while not sticking completely to each event of the book the of the same name by Norman Maclean, is able to stay true to the overall story and messages that are portrayed in the book. While adding a little touch of cinema so that the average masses of movie goers won't get to bored. By the time the credits role. The characters in this film, are just the right amount of book adaptation, and the it would already take a very intriguing actor to play the free spirited Paul, but seeing Brad Pitt in the role, just makes it even more interesting. Craig Sheffer, while not p ache viewing such stardom as Brad Pitt, still is able to play his role in the movie very effectively. These two leads, realistically, couldn't have been cast any better. Of course there are other side characters that weren't as perfectly cast. Norm and Paul's father didn't particularly fit in the role. Almost everyone who read the book probably imagined him as more of a big rugged guy, even if her was a preacher, that is how the book portrayed him. Not to mention Paul's beautiful Native American girlfriend p, who was neither beautiful, or Native American. But this is just nitpicking, since no film can have a perfect cast, and the two brothers are enough to keep this movie afloat nicely.

The theme is something that movies can get very wrong, very easily, in book to movie. adaptations. Especially when dealing with a theme such as the one in this book, which is confusing to the most advanced reader. The film makers were treading on thin ice, when they took up this part of the story. But, to their credit, they don't just portray the theme accurately, they make it easier to understand. With a story such as this one, with such a narrative and underlying meaning in it's characters. The theme is not just being waved right in your face, and screaming that it's the theme. Your have to search for it, and even then it's very hard to understand. It one of those themes where you read the whole book, and came find all the little details, and put them all together, and your starting at complete nonsense. The movie decides to uncork the nonsense for you, while still not shoving it in your face, so obnoxiously, as films tend to do with their themes. The actors also certainly know what their young to portray their theme. With their clear use of meaning in their lines, and just how subtlety the can lay on the emotion. It's clear the message in A River Runs Though It isn't one that's going away any time soon. So on the whole, even if the movie did have a few things that seem to crop up in movies are less than appetizing, (seeing a girl from acrossed to room at a party, and falling in love with her, the strict parent, the reckless decision as youth, that could have killed them, but they turn out okay anyway). However the movie was a successful adaption of the book it is named after. It's characters are for the most part, well adapted, and it's theme is clear. Little more can be asked of a movie adaptation of a book. This movie is one that is sure to please, fans of the classic short story, and true movie lovers a like. Although if your a person who only likes big studio movies, who favors big explosions, among other unrealistically big things on the screen at all times, I'd leave this one out of your collection. But if your like so many other classic movie lovers out there, this is a movie for you, just try and see passed all the obsessive fly fishing.

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A River Runs Through It

7/10
Author: GNG Knapp from United States
1 October 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The film A River Run Through It, was based on the novella by Norman Maclean. That was a short story, and made into a long, funny and entertaining film. It captures the interesting parts of fly fishing along with the beauty of Montana. In this film you see the best rivers that Norman and Paul fish at. Paul and Norman go down this one river in their teenager days in a boat. It had tons of rocks and big waves in it, very unsafe. There friends weren't sure if they were going to make it but Paul and Norman did. Entertaining parts of the movie was when Norman and Paul ended up going fishing with Jessie's brother Neal. Neal ended up getting burnt real bad.

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Seen better, but still good

7/10
Author: GNG Hethcoat from United States
1 October 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Suspense abound! Not quite, but this adaption of Norman Maclean's short story drama certainly has plenty of emotion to it. Sticking closely enough to the source novel, the film doesn't seem to sacrifice much from the novel for a more entertaining film. Instead, being able to see in the film what the novel vaguely describes helps much in getting everything out of the story.

It's clear the novel meant something for someone, as there weren't many times where the movie strayed from the book, only at a few points it adds new things to the story. The changes it does make generally aren't very important, in one such case, Norm having already known Jesse in the book is turned into a brief subplot where he meets and builds a relationship with her. It's not as in other films, where they take the name, and make an entirely unrelated story out of it.

The film looks exactly how the book described. The setting of the story feels looks how it was described in the novel, feeling like that Montana the characters talked about. There isn't excessive special effects, everything for the most part looks natural, and convincing. It's not as if it's a film needed many effects, but it's nice to see how the film wasn't covered in unneeded effects just to make it look more interesting, at the expense of story, like other films.

Perhaps the most important thing the movie has going for it is the acting. Starring Craig Scheffer as Norm, and Brad Pitt as his brother Paul, these actors portray the two biggest characters rather accurately. Along with Tom Skerritt as their reverend father, the actors look the part, and make convincing enough brothers. Together, they make the film more compelling, being able to pull off Norm's concerned, wiser personality, and Paul's tough guy personality pretty well.

Overall, the film is well acted, fairly well paced, and good looking. It doesn't make us suffer through the long descriptions of fly fishing that the novel did, instead maintaining fly fishing's importance to the story without doing that. The most unusual thing about this film is that it's superior to the source novel. Any film accomplishing such a feat deserves much respect.

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