A River Runs Through it
1992 Directed by Robert Redford. Starring Craig Sheffer, Brad Pitt, Tom Skerritt, Brenda Blethyn, Emily Lloyd.
REVIEWED By Hollis Chacona, Fri., Oct. 23, 1992
What compels Robert Redford to make movies from seemingly impossible subject matter? Politics? Self-challenge? Masochism? An affinity for the visual beauty of the written word? Whatever the motivation, we are the richer for his labors. In Ordinary People, he dared to show America the dark side of Mary Richards. In The Milagro Beanfield War, the epic struggles of a culture are etched onto the screen as surely as its history is etched onto the New Mexican landscape. And now... A River Runs Through It. I gave my husband a copy of Norman Maclean's book for his first Father's Day and have considered its story a personal family legacy ever since. I was selfishly dismayed when I heard it was to become a movie for every Tom, Dick and non-fly fishing Harry to see. But Redford knows that great stories deserve telling and retelling, the medium merely serving as a different voice. And what a voice it is. A pure cinematic distillation of Maclean's words, it is by turns austere and vibrant, disconsolate and joyful. And, at times, like the perfect cast, “...so soft and slow that it can be followed like an ash settling.” For it is not an appreciation of fly fishing that counts after all, rather an appreciation of the metaphor of fly fishing -- the grace, the discipline, the patience, the passion, the disappointment, the land and the water. Those are things everyone should know. Redford knows them. Just as he knows that it doesn't matter how long his movie stays in the theater. For, as Maclean points out, “One of life's quiet excitements is to stand somewhat apart from yourself and watch yourself softly becoming the author of something beautiful, even if it is only a floating ash.”