My Own Private Idaho (1991)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB

USA, 1991.  New Line Cinema.  Screenplay by , based in part on the play Henry IV by .  Cinematography by , .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Gus Van Sant’s first film after his critically acclaimed Drugstore Cowboy is this gritty, powerful drama that explores thlives of male prostitutes. Keanu Reeves plays the son of a rich politician who sells his body on the street to rebel against his father. His best friend is another hustler (River Phoenix) who has a deep love for Reeves that goes unrequited in between his various tricks. Phoenix’s performance as the narcoleptic boy is the best of his career and one of the best of the decade; anyone needing proof that a huge talent was lost by his untimely death a few years later need only take a look at this film.  Van Sant’s direction gets points for realism but not much else, as his story lacks drama and tends to meander too much, particularly an entire sequence involving a big-time pimp that is lifted directly from Henry IV.  What prompted much of the praise for the film when it was originally released was that a gay underground drama managed to attract big stars, but the thrill has since worn off.

The Criterion Collection:  #277

Venice Film Festival Award:  Best Actor (River Phoenix)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s