River Runs Through It (A)
This movie suggests that if you can learn to fly-fish, to read the river, the fish, and yourself, and to do what needs to be done gracefully, you have the best likelihood of living well, of knowing that the river, the fish, and the whole world are God's gifts to use wisely. Knowing that, you're on your way.
These memories of a Western childhood, first told in a book published over 20 years ago by Norman Maclean, a retired University of Chicago English professor, comprise a story his father said he should write. On being published, the book immediately found an audience, and by is a hallowed by many people, as are "Walden Pond" and "Huckleberry Finn." Redford narrates Maclean's prose, so we can do more than simply see events as they happen; we're reminded that they're memories from long ago, from which the author has drawn lessons.
Norman (Sheffer) is the older, more serious son; he's learning to write by taking his essays to his father, who invariably says, "Good. Now make it half as long." Paul (Pitt), the younger brother, is an impetuous, free-spirited youth who drinks too much, gambles as cards, and wants only to stay in Montana, working for a newspaper. Norman has serious hopes; he wants to teach literature. But Paul is the better fly fisherman, and for at least one day, is perfect at what he does.
Visually, the movie suggests the richness of Western states in those days, where the small towns form the edge of the frontier. The maturing boys meet and date young women, including a young Indian woman Paul dates in defiance of town opinion, and the high-spirited Jessie, (Lloyd), who eventually marries Norman.((Redford and writer Friedenberg understand that many life events, especially crucial ones, are accidental or arbitrary, and that we exercise little conscious control over our destinies. The Reverend Maclean's lessons are about how to behave, regardless what life brings, how to wade into the unpredictable stream of life, and to deal with whatever comes with grace, courage, and honesty. The film's best achievement is that it communicates the message with great feeling.
Richard Friedenberg, based on the book by Norman McLean
Brad Pitt, Tom Skerritt, Craig Sheffer, Emily Lloyd; narrated by Redford
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