Abel Grey is sent to investigate the death of a boy from an exclusive local school, who is found floating in the river. Fearing scandal, the school insists it was suicide. But after ...
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Frank John Hughes,
The story centers on around the mysterious death of repeat drunk driving offender Thacker and the discovery of his body in an alley behind the Marshalltown, Iowa, police department after his latest DUI arrest.
Abel Grey is sent to investigate the death of a boy from an exclusive local school, who is found floating in the river. Fearing scandal, the school insists it was suicide. But after discovering from the boy's girlfriend, Carlin, that he was being badly bullied, Abel suspects that a dangerous schoolboy initiation has gone horribly wrong and he secretly solicits the help of a sympathetic teacher, Betsy. He is warned off the investigation by his boss, as the school is a generous benefactor to the Police benevolent fund. Abel, however, cannot let the case go, not only because his own brother committed suicide years before, but also it seems that the spirit of the dead boy is leaving them clues as to what really happened that night.Written by
At the end of the film, Abel's father, Ernest, recalls how Abel's brother had hugged him the day that he committed suicide. Ernest then remarks that he found it strange because it wasn't Frank's way. This dialogue is taken directly from a scene where Abel is talking to his mother rather than his father. See more »
The amount of snow on the ground and sidewalks changes throughout the movie. This is noticeable starting in the opening minutes of the movie when Abel and Joey are driving through town. See more »
The Mystery : Finding the Multiple Stories and Making Them Relate
THE RIVER KING is a high profile film that went directly to DVD without the benefit of a theater run. It is anyone's guess why a film of this quality should not make it commercially while there are so many less well-made movies that linger on the screens for weeks or months. The film is well acted, well directed, beautifully photographed and well scored.
The possible reason for its lack of attention may have been due to some test screenings where the audience was asked to evaluate. Despite all of the fine points of the film the problem lies in the screen adaptation by David Kane of the haunting novel by Alice Hoffman. Too many loose ends do not a story make and in the final analysis it is difficult to converse with someone who has not seen the film just what it is about.
Ostensibly, THE RIVER KING is about a private prep school out in the snowy fields of somewhere, a place where secret societies still haze, faculty are still under the control of the school's funders, and appearances are far more important than truths. Abel (Edward Burns) is called in to investigate the found drowned body of a student, and with his partner (John Kapelos) the two detectives suspect foul play - suicide, murder, hazing. Their investigation includes questioning the victim's only friend Carlin (Rachelle Lefevre) and one photography and English Lit teacher Betsy (Jennifer Ehle). But as the investigation proceeds, Abel has flashbacks to his childhood memories of his own older brother's suicide, dark secrets that have haunted him, and it is this psychic matrix which serves as the canvas for him to resolve the case as well as to relate to the various characters within the confines of the prep school.
Many of the questions raised by the narrative remain unanswered by this frustrating script, but the actors bring as much involvement and credibility as they are able to create a film of mystery and self-realization in the snow and ice of the fields around the school. For those who wish more, reading Hoffman's novel will be more satisfying. Grady Harp
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