My Own Private Idaho is a really great movie. I've mentioned before that River Phoenix is one of those tragic figures who I, along with legions of others who are too young to remember him being alive, are drawn to. Thirteen year old me was into the tragedy and the oh-so-dreamy face. Twenty-five year old me has a bit more perspective and knows he was just a really good actor who died too soon. Thirteen year old me did not understand or enjoy My Own Private Idaho. Twenty-five year old me thought it was crazy good.
It's one of those rare movies that walks the line of pretentious art-house and linear plot with relatable characters well. It's definitely not Good Will Hunting but it isn't Last Days either. I like the balance. Obviously, a great deal of the credit goes to River Phoenix. Perhaps less obviously, a great deal of the credit also goes to Keanu Reeves. I acknowledge that Keanu is not The thespian of our times, but a few roles he hits right on the money. He was born to be Scott Favor just as he was born to be Neo in The Matrix and Jack in Speed. The dynamic between Keanu and River is pitch perfect, perhaps a byproduct of their real life relationship.
I'd like to see this again. There was so much going on, I feel like I probably only absorbed 50% of it. Some of the weird Shakespearian language especially I'd like to reexamine. Finally, I've gone this whole post without mentioning Gus Van Sant which is practically criminal. He's great. All of his films, whether I like them or not, I'm glad I saw. I always know going in that he's got something to say. He's earned my trust. If his name is on it, I'll give it a whirl. If you haven't seen My Own Private Idaho - go see it. Unless you're 13. In which case, wait about ten years.