Runstedler’s DVD Pick of the Month: River’s Edge

Let’s face it, Keanu Reeves won’t be getting any awards for acting anytime soon. However, that doesn’t hinder the greatness of Tim Hunter’s 1987 film River’s Edge. Crispin Glover, Ione Skye and the late Dennis Hopper costar in this brilliant portrait of a small American town that tries to cover up the sexual assault and murder of a teenage girl down by the river. The driving force of River’s Edge is the attitudes of the townsfolk, ones that define the recklessness and unsupervised nature of the ’80s. It doesn’t have the extreme hyperrealism of Gummo,  but it’s still a town of amorality and its humanism is few and far between. Matt’s prepubescent brother Tim, for instance, epitomizes the corruption of this society. He vandalizes property, smokes, doesn’t respond to adult authority and stages a robbery, among other things. The most bizarre aspect of the film is the lengths to which everyone tries to cover up the murder. Crispin Glover has a memorable performance in the film as one of the murderer’s friends. He becomes paranoid and obsesses over covering up what really happened, and goes to great lengths to ensure that his murderer friend is protected from the authorities. The murderer is quite honest about his actions, to the point of boasting, admitting that he killed the girl and raped her because she spoke poorly of his deceased mother. This leads to division over what to do amongst the group of friends, who also include Matt (Reeves) and Clarissa (Skye). Dennis Hopper  costars as Feck, one of the town’s stranger inhabitants. He shares a certain romance with his inflatable doll and his performance here is one of his finest, and becomes crucial to the development and outcome of the story as the film progresses. Together, they will all come together and be set apart at the river’s edge.

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