My Own Private Idaho
Film Review


My Own Private Idaho is not just a stylish and (slightly) edgy look at the counterculture around male prostitution; it is also about the need people have for emotional connection. The film is a bit risque, sure, but no more so than Trainspotting or Drugstore Cowboy (another Van Sant film); and while it deals with the hardships that go with life on the outside, MOPI is not a gritty and depressing film, though it is often sad in a bittersweet way. The direction is very hip, exciting, and cool: very reminiscent of your favorite alt rock ballads and jams from the mid-90s; it flows easily and has a definite vibe to it, which gives the film an enchanting quality, with its big open skies, rolling clouds, and roads that go on forever. The plot is a bit awkward and that is the main negative of the film, especially if one does not know that MOPI is partly based on a play by Shakespeare, with many lines directly used (and not always very well). The film does have its missteps, and it sometimes comes off silly when trying to be playfully cool (though that is not too bad since the film is often intentionally trying to create a comedic mood). One really ought rather to watch the film for the characters and the actors. River Pheonix plays a lost kid trying to find that something he needs, and Keanu Reeves plays a young man who is consciously, albeit slowly, giving up his youthful rebelliousness. They are close friends, but how long can they both inhabit the same world? In the final scene, you will, most likely, find that you care about how it ends for the main character. Recommended to those who can admire good direction and to those who enjoy films that are mostly about the characters themselves and their relationships with each other.

3.75 / 5.0

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