104 Min. | Drama | December 1991
IMDB Rating: 7.1
Director: Gus Van Sant
Staring: River Phoenix, Keanu Reeves, James Russo
My Own Private Idaho Review: Gus Van Sant has always been an interesting filmmaker. He cares about character and story and through the process, his artistic integrity is able to shine through his work and that is why he’s considered a prominent director in independent cinema. My Own Private Idaho is more of is more well known independent features and is often viewed as a triumph of independent cinema from the 1990s. My Own Private Idaho follows Mark Waters (River Phoenix) an aimless, misguided young man who hustles on the streets and is yearning to find his way in life. His best friend is Scott Favor (Keanu Reeves), who is also a young man and and a hustler, but who instead is running away from his life in the hope of finding something better. Scott comes from a lot of wealth but chooses not to live that lifestyle because when he’s this young and wild, he just doesn’t believe that its right for him.
However My Own Private Idaho is centered around Mark, who is played with such brutal honestly by the late River Phoenix. River is completely dedicated to the character and brings a wonderful vulnerability to a lost soul and it makes him relatable. We watch him go from scene to scene, leaving us as unaware of his future as he is. We watch him make many mistakes and we want him to better himself but such a task is not easy. Because that’s the way life is. Mark hustles because its just who he is. We don’t know how he got here, but we know that he has fallen into this lifestyle and it has consumed him. He needs the money. All of his friends are hustlers, too. He has dreams but its tough to say if he ever truly wants to leave the lifestyle. It seems that getting clients and often falling asleep during it doesn’t seem to take as much of a toll on him as does his thoughts about his mother, or his feelings for his best friend.
Gus Van Sant crafts a very fine film here that focuses on such a lifestyle that we’re not exposed to in our every day lives and turns it into something we can all relate to. It all comes back to that road, the road that we’re all on. Does it really end? Probably not. Much like in the way that Mark is shown standing on that road, staring out into the nothingness. My Own Private Idaho, is really about our lives. We live and we’re happy, and we’re sad, and we’re lonely, and we’re lost, and we’ve found ourselves, all of these things happen on the very same road that never ends. Overall, My Own Private Idaho is an excellent film.