The River Why Reviews
This film immediately reminded me of A River Runs through It because both concern a transcendence one might feel from fishing, but whereas Robert Redford's film focuses on an entire family dynamic, the family issues are thinly developed and tangential to the protagonist trying to "discover himself." Obviously, fishing is central to this discovery, but equally important are the "uncatchable girl" and the dime store philosophy dispensed by his friend.
The film's weaknesses are fairly obvious, the undeveloped family dynamic (the great William Hurt is sorely under-used) and the pedestrian nature of the philosophical discussions, which the director probably thought wouldn't play well in film (an insult to the audience's intelligence). What comes instead of developing these elements are shots of nature being beautiful and Gus being wistful -- weak choices both. It's possible that these elements were fully explored in the book, which would imply that the source material might just not be filmable.
But I can't deny that the film had an effect on me. There is something oddly romantic about fishing as it is portrayed in this film and Redford's, but of course in reality the bugs and the dirtiness of the water and the hours of inaction would take all the romance away.
Overall, this film is for fishing aficionados, those who can, with the film, celebrate in the beauty of their sport and don't need to have a solid, well-constructed story to move the film along.