This is the movie of all of us in a lot of ways. It follows life from the carefree and uninhibited days of twentysomething to the burdens of fortysomething. With one exception, each of the half-dozen river guides of the 70's grew up, settled down and became entangled in the humdrum, perplexities and small successes of adulthood. Yet in watching film of themselves mostly naked and carefree 20 years earlier there's little wistfulness, nostalgia or regret for the loss of youthful abandon. That was then, this is now. As one woman said, "we did it because we could." But most people can't do it forever and these former river rats have largely found as much adjustment and peace amid mortgages and child-raising as they did floating through the Grand Canyon.
One of the most interesting aspects is the fact that three of them have held elected office, and in fact two are mayors of their small towns. Not what anyone would expect watching them negotiating rafts through the rapids in the early footage.
The filmmakers, and particularly the editor, did a masterful job of letting characters in his documentary reveal themselves. It's a compelling film, not as powerful as "When We Were Kings" or "Don't Look Back", but nonetheless a strong and worthy effort. It was highly recommended by the New York Times reviewer and I concur wholeheartedly. No doubt will be appreciated by middle-aged people who, like myself, were lucky enough to have a few years of completely uninhibited life before being drawn into much more conventional settings.
I was surprised to even find this movie at the video store because it never really found distribution outside the film festivals. You may have to dig around for it but it'll be well worth your trouble. A good, solid eight.
(I have sympathy for the kinds of people who watch this movie and can only focus on the nudity.)
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