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A River Runs Through It (1992)



Average Rating: 6.8/10
Reviews Counted: 40
Fresh: 33 | Rotten: 7

Tasteful to a fault, this period drama combines a talented cast (including a young Brad Pitt) with some stately, beautifully filmed work from director Robert Redford.


Average Rating: 7.5/10
Critic Reviews: 11
Fresh: 10 | Rotten: 1

Tasteful to a fault, this period drama combines a talented cast (including a young Brad Pitt) with some stately, beautifully filmed work from director Robert Redford.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 66,921

My Rating

Movie Info

Robert Redford's lyrical direction sets the tone for this evocative adaptation of author Norman MacLean's memoir of his idyllic Montana youth. The MacLean family is presided over by the strict but encouraging Rev. MacLean (Tom Skerritt) and his loving wife (Brenda Blethyn). Craig Sheffer stars as the young Norman, the older son in his family, who takes his school work and writing a bit too seriously for Paul (Brad Pitt), the impetuous younger son, to take much stock in. Paul would rather have a



Norman Maclean, Richard Friedenberg

Nov 23, 1999

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

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All Critics (40) | Top Critics (11) | Fresh (33) | Rotten (7) | DVD (11)

A skilled, careful adaptation of a much-admired story.

November 8, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This may work for you if you settle at the outset for a nostalgic, all-American mood piece.

November 8, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Leave your preconceptions about fishing at the door: you'll be caught hook, line and sinker.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
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Here are two things I never thought I'd say: I like a movie about fly fishing, and Robert Redford has directed one of the most ambitious, accomplished films of the year.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Redford's movie is too little show and too much tell.

May 12, 2001 | Comment (1)
Rolling Stone
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In its determination to emphasize character and thoughtful content over formulas and facile sensationalism, it's a movie that's proudly out of step with Hollywood trends.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Moving, powerful movie of two brothers.

December 21, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Sherritt has been in a lot of movies, but the role of Rev. Maclean seems like one he was born to play. He owns it, the way that Pitt and Sheffer own theirs, and as a result it takes no time at all to believe this group as a family and become involved.

July 14, 2009 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

There is too much taste, discretion and detachment in Redford's rendition of MacLean's sprawling family saga, but the scenery and Brad Pitt are nice to look at due to Philippe Rousselot's gorgeous Oscar-winning cinematography.

March 24, 2008 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Although heart-throb Pitt steals the film to some extent, veteran actor Skerritt scores highly with his outstanding and heartfelt portrait of the watchful father.

November 8, 2007 Full Review Source: Film4

Even set against the Sierra Club beauty of Redford's Montana, it's hard to get excited by fisherman casting their lines into the water.

November 8, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide | Comments (2)
TV Guide's Movie Guide

A great movie to watch with the family at Christmas.

December 4, 2006

A specialist in bringing books to life as movies, Redford has a knack for finding what matters in the text and making sure it ends up on screen.

September 22, 2005 Full Review Source:

Brad Pitt's breakthrough...a nostalgic, fine telling.

January 3, 2005
Kansas City Kansan

Nice to look at but rather dull

June 25, 2004
Lawrence Journal-World

How exciting is fly-fishing as a metaphor?

January 21, 2004 | Comments (6)

Disappointing drama. Some moving moments while fly fishing, but a senseless tear-jerker end just seems desperate.

July 14, 2003 | Comment (1)

A very unusual Hollywood movie: it is literary and it has a heart of gold.

March 23, 2003 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

A truly remarkable film. Redford's direction is unmatching.

September 18, 2002

Presents uplifting messages about family, siblings, and the spiritual solace of mastery in a sport.

August 21, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

A beautifully made and photographed story of familial bonds.

July 25, 2002
Matinee Magazine

Director Redford also addresses the theme of loving families who do not communicate pain well.

April 13, 2002
Movie Mom at Yahoo! Movies

Audience Reviews for A River Runs Through It

This movie is about the youth and young adulthood of two brothers - set in the mountains of Montana - with fly fishing as a major component. Robert Redford is the narrator (and director). Worth watching.
May 22, 2012

Super Reviewer

Absolutely breathtaking cinematography more than makes up for a less-than riveting storyline. A young Brad Pitt shines as well.
November 7, 2011
Spencer Macklin

Super Reviewer

Robert Redford directs and narrates this American poem about the life of one family in early 20th century Montana. Touching and evocative, surely this is one of Redford's better films, a bittersweet toast to life itself. The casting choice of C.Sheffer, in my opinion, is where this work unfortunately falters. He seems to be wondering through the length of the film: "what am I doing in this here movie with Brad Pitt?!?"
June 14, 2011

Super Reviewer

I can't see whats not to like about this film. Sure, we've seen it a million times but "A River Runs Through It" works like no other. The beatiful direction and visual of Montana in the early 1900's is done wonderfully. The acting, in my own opinon, was very well-done. Once again I am surprised to say that another movie starring Brad Pitt has entered the list of my favorite films. I've never really noticed it before, but about 75 percent of my favorite movies star Pitt. But, does that make him my favorite actor? I'm quite unsure. I mean, "Fight Club" is my third most favorite film out there. "Se7en", I believe is number six. "Sleepers" is at number ten [altough I may push it up to the late teens]. "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" is up there and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and "Burn After Reading" are in there too. I believe theres more that aren't coming to mind. Brad Pitt is just one fine actor. I've never noticed before how many of his movies were favorites of mine.

Well, in this movie he plays Paul, the younger brother of Norman. Paul is the younger brother of Norman. Paul is the brother who likes to live life like no tommorow. He the type of character who isn't afraid to die. Hes a character who just doesn't give a fuck what people think. There is one scene in this movie where Paul brings an Asian girl into a bar [where she is not allowed----takes place during WW1]. Paul is the cool character. Brad Pitt does one great job in the supporting role.

The movie pretty much just tells the tale of two close brothers whose lives change over the course of time.

The movie has beatiful shots of rivers as the characters in the movie fly-fish. To me, I loved this movie. Some find it boring, but me, no. I found this to be a beatifully told tale of the true story of the two Maclean brothers.

Great acting, great direction, great visual photography. Thats enough for me to give this movie a solid five stars.
July 18, 2010
Corey Wood

Super Reviewer

    1. Conroy: You can't shoot the shoots, Pauly.
    2. Paul Maclean: You can try.
    3. Humph: You can die trying.
    – Submitted by Sandpoint I (21 months ago)
    1. Humph: Jesus, Mary & Joseph...
    – Submitted by Sandpoint I (21 months ago)
    1. Norman Maclean: And I knew just as surely, just as clearly, that life is not a work of art, and that the moment could not last.
    – Submitted by Mackenzie M (3 years ago)
    1. Reverend MacLean: For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don't know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them - we can love completely without complete understanding.
    – Submitted by Mackenzie M (3 years ago)
    1. Reverend MacLean: Each one of here today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question: We are willing help, Lord, but what, if anything, is needed? For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don't know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them - we can love completely without complete understanding.
    – Submitted by Chad E (3 years ago)
    1. Narration: Like many fly fishermen in western Montana where the summer days are almost Arctic in length, I often do not start fishing until the cool of the evening. Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise. Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.
    – Submitted by Chad E (3 years ago)
View all quotes (7)

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