"The River Rat" is very much like a ghost story - not too much depth, but plenty of adventure and cheap thrills to keep you interested. The acting is generally good. Tommy Lee Jones and Brian Dennehy are reliable as ever, if Dennehy's character is a good bit too over-the-top. It was interesting to see Martha Plimpton so young, playing a role very much reminiscent of one she did three years later in "Shy People".
This is the only film both written and directed by Thomas Rickman. It's easy to see why. Not to say that the script is necessarily bad - the dialogue is clever, and the characters are fleshed out for the most part. The main weakness is the schizophrenic overall quality of the story he's trying to tell. When he sticks to real life and family drama, it works. When he tries to turn it into a thriller, everything comes crashing down. In theory, Rickman could have filmed it in a way that brought things together, but he tends to direct in a very unrestrained sort of way, lacking the ingenuity to really pull it off.
I liked "The River Rat" mainly for it's nice visual feel, and the occasional sense of reality that pushed through the lazier aspects of production. There's a lot of ways it could have been improved, but it makes for good low expectation entertainment. A fun little movie.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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