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I know, I know, two movie reviews in one month.  Wow, and I stayed awake and everything (normally a movie narcoleptic).

 I first saw this film 25 years ago at the flicks.  I was a graduate student in English, and the course I was taking required that we see the movie and write a review.  Mercifully, that first review of 25 years ago has not survived and I’m certain that we are all the better for it.  So with fresh eyes and ears, here we go.

 The Film: A River Runs Through It

The Writer: Norman Maclean (at least the movie was adapted to this story.) 

The Producer/Director: Robert Redford

 3 sentence summary

 1) The family life of a western minister raising his family in Missoula Montana around the First World War and during the 20’s.

 2) The ties that bind this family together are the church and fly fishing.

 3) The downward spiral of a rebellious son, and the subsequent helplessness of the family and community, are all too real.

 Short Review 

Missoula Montana is a Wild West frontier town, with all the trimmings.  The story chronicles the lives of two brothers, Norman and Paul, as they grow up schooled by their father, a local Presbyterian minister by morning, and a fly fishing and roaming the outdoors gentleman in the afternoon.  In the mind of the father, there is no distinction between the life of faith and fly fishing.  The evidence given is that many of the disciples were fishermen.  As the boys grow up we realize that in some respects we are hearing a modern retelling of one of Jesus’s most famous parables, The Prodigal Son. In this retelling Paul, the younger son and wayward indeed, is headed for destruction and the family is aware and fully unable to intervene in the slide.  You can feel the helplessness. Of excellent and subtle note, is that the father never condemns the younger son in whom he takes obvious delight.  The loyalty of the older brother is also a refreshing twist.  

This movie packs a punch. The cinematography is excellent, the writing is excellent, the story is excellent; and all the while Robert Redford’s narrative voice is there to help direct our emotions and provide comfort for the punches we keep taking.  

If you haven’t seen this film in a while, do it.  If you have never seen it, really do it.



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