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I'm not a film critic, but I'll tell you what I think about the movies I watch. I enjoy understanding the history behind the movies we watch, as well as the collaborative effort necessary to produce movies.

My Own Private Idaho


My Own Private Idaho 1My Own Private Idaho (1991)

Directed by Gus Van Sant

Based on plays by William Shakespeare

Screenplay by Gus Van Sant

Starring: River Phoenix, Keanu Reeves, William Richert, James Russo

Two hustlers, Mike (Phoenix) and Scott (Reeves), go on a series of journeys in search of something profound. As they make new discoveries their relationship pays a price.

My Own Private Idaho 3This film was written and directed by Gus Van Sant (Elephant). He drew inspiration from the works of William Shakespeare, specifically “Henry IV – Part 1” and “Henry IV – Part 2”. The film stars River Phoenix (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) and Keanu Reeves (John Wick). William Richert (The Client) and James Russo (Donnie Brasco) are also featured.

My Own Private Idaho 9This story is a unique vision of Shakespeare’s Henry IV plays. The modern Northwestern setting is accompanied by a unique band of highly flawed characters. Specifically, the characters of Mike and Scott, two male prostitutes, stand out for their many issues. The dialogue is a mix of modern speech, Shakespeare’s own dialogue, and writing done in the Shakespearean style. There is also an element of documentary film styling in this one. The mix of styles come together in a film that has an almost manic pace. The story focuses on Mike (perhaps Poins from the play) and his relationship with Scott. Their relationship leads them into a series of odd, humorous, and sometimes painful encounters. This friendship provides a number of great moments for these two characters and the rest of the cast. This is a highly introspective film that provides more questions than answers. It’s clearly a passion project for Gus Van Sant. The end result is a story that works at times, and falls in others.

My Own Private Idaho 7The acting in this movie has some good moments. It’s not likely that I’d cast Keanu Reeves in anything remotely related to Shakespeare, but he does good work in this one. His character is somewhat tailored to his range, and he has great chemistry with the rest of the cast. The best connection is between himself and River Phoenix. Phoenix has a sense of sadness that he brings to his role, and it is special to watch. He also seemed to understand the flaws of his character from the very beginning.

My Own Private Idaho 2William Richert gives an excellent performance in one of the more interesting roles in the film. Patterned after Shakespeare’s Falstaff, the character is uniquely sad and humorous all at once. James Russo is another nice addition to the cast. He helps, along with the rest of the cast, to bring this one to life. It’s a unique version of a classic story that the cast seemed to understand. They do energetic and excellent work throughout the film.

My Own Private Idaho 11Visually, this movie seems to operate in sync with the tone of the story. There’s a sense of being able to see inside the minds of the characters that adds something different to this one. The movie also uses color and composition to add to the odd feel of this one. The visuals create a sense of the openness of the world of the film and the possibilities within the story. Like the writing, the visuals in this movie don’t follow a formula. The combination of the writing and visuals help to make this one of the most unusual films you’ll see.

My Own Private Idaho 8If you’re a fan of Shakespeare you should definitely see this one. I would also recommend this one to fans of any of the stars. Fans of Van Sant should also make sure to see this one. Overall, this might not work for everyone due to the inconsistent pace and lack of a solid arc. I give this one 3.7 out of 5 stars.

Rating: R

Running Time: 104 Minutes

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8 Comments on “My Own Private Idaho”

  1. vinnieh February 19, 2015 at 7:50 AM #

    Always heard so many good things about this movie and especially Phoenix. Excellent review.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeffro517 February 19, 2015 at 8:36 AM #

      Hope you can see it. It’s quite an interesting movie.

      Liked by 1 person

      • vinnieh February 19, 2015 at 8:38 AM #

        Hopefully I will see it, will let you know my thoughts if I do watch it in the future.

        Liked by 1 person

      • jeffro517 February 19, 2015 at 8:39 AM #

        Thank you for reading my review. Can’t wait to see what you think about this one.

        Liked by 1 person

      • vinnieh February 19, 2015 at 8:41 AM #

        Sorry I haven’t been on your blog for a while, just been a little busy.

        Liked by 1 person

      • jeffro517 February 19, 2015 at 8:50 AM #

        Glad you’re back!

        Liked by 1 person

      • vinnieh February 19, 2015 at 8:51 AM #

        Thanks, will definitely be checking your blog out more often. I follow so many blogs it can be really hard to keep up with them all.

        Liked by 1 person

      • jeffro517 February 19, 2015 at 9:22 AM #

        I understand that, and I appreciate your support!

        Like

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