A River Runs Through It tells the quite extraordinary story of two boys, Norman Maclean (Craig Sheffer) and Paul Maclean (Brad Pritt). They are growing up in the 1920s with a very strict father who is a pastor, Rev. Maclean (Tom Skerritt). Their father only teaches them about three things in life, the Bible, school and fly fishing. Paul is more of the rebellious son that has to be watched very closely, while Norman is responsible, and has the look of someone that will one day be a good man. So Norman departs from his lifetime home to go to college and start his own life, without returning home for six years. Paul does not want to leave his home because of fly fishing, which he is unusually good at, and he finds a job as a local journalist. That summer Norman finds a girlfriend, and begins to get serious and keep a clean life. But Paul turns to nothing but gambling and liquor, getting in debt and making his share of enemies. Through the exact same teachings of the Bible and fly fishing from their father, Norman and Paul become two completely different men.
Directed by the famous Robert Redford, A River Runs Through It is a surprisingly very good film. This is the type that fits my taste perfectly, and while seeing it I was somewhat reminded of another film I truly love, The Cider House Rules. There is no doubt that many will find this film slow and very boring, but that is what I love most about it. Redford and Friedenberg do nothing special here but take the audience through the interesting, meaningful, and sad lives of the Maclean brothers, and the people concerning them. I have always been a big Robert Redford fan, as he stars in one of my favorite films ever, The Sting. It was great to see him in the directing chair here, and even though this is not the first film Redford ever directed, it is the only one I have seen so it has the same affect for me. I have heard some say Redford has made a masterpiece here, and others say just another boring, no point film. I disagree on both ends. A River Runs Through It is no masterpiece, but that does not change the fact that it is a very well made film, that most movie buffs will like, or maybe even love. Redford's direction is quite excellent really, he takes us through the lives of these two men that are developed so brillinatly that the audience is likely to have tears nearing the end. Though the end was my biggest problem with the film. It felt forced to me, without about ten minutes left it did not feel like the movie was about to be over, and I think the writers might have forced it. Not enough to ruin the movie or anything, but I would have liked it to be better than it was.
A River Runs Through It is also a very well cast film, with no miscasts, which is always a plus. I was worried that Craid Sheffer would not do a good job, but I was in for quite a surprise here. He did wonderfully. He was a great lead, and good enough to lift the film up even more, portraying the character of Norman very well. Brad Pitt was a standout here. I know many people like to give him hate, and I can see why. But it is hard to deny that he actually does have acting ability, and it is shown off in this film. No doubt one of my favorite performances coming from him. Tom Skerritt was so great as well. If you have ever known an old country pastor then you will know just exactly how well he did here. A great cast just brought this film up to what it needed to be.
Overall, A River Runs Through It is a film that with a stronger ending, could have been a near masterpiece, if not one. Though that does not change for the fact that it is a very solid, good film that can be enjoyed by adults as well as families. It is not complicated, it is just a simple tale of life that is really worth watching. The screenplay is great, and Redford's direction is very impressive. He should probably work in the directing chair more often than he does. The acting was brilliant, which helps the characters that are developed to perfection. The cinematography and musical score were both Oscar worthy as well, one of which taking home the big award. When watching this film, take it for what it is and the whole film is worth your money in the end.
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