River of Grass (1995)
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as Lee Ray Harold
as Depressed Woman in Bar
as Det. Ortiz
as Bar Guitarist
as Motel Loiterer
Critic Reviews for River of Grass
It's not exactly action-filled, but its main character is explicit about what's on her mind and how deep-seated her desire to escape is.
It's almost too ethereal, it slips through your fingers when you try to grab it. Although that could be the point.
River of Grass is very funny, but in a more somber key it also test-drives what will become Reichardt's specialty: the transformation of cheerless wastelands into backdrops for journeys of the parched soul.
Reichardt subverts expectations at every turn, while simultaneously painting a vivid portrait of southern Florida (the title refers to the Everglades, and the film goes back and forth between Broward and Dade County) in all its sun-drenched seediness.
Audience Reviews for River of Grass
Between a 7/10 and 8/10, if Meek's Cutoff could be seen as an anti-Western, using the genre's tropes in defiantly subversive ways, River of Grass pulls similar tricks with crime drama and noir clichés.
Bored, Cozy(Lisa Bowman), a housewife, dresses up to go to a nearby bar where she encounters Lee(Larry Fessenden). Lee, despite rarely leaving his grandmother's house by the age of 29, has somehow and coincidentally come into the possession of the gun formerly belonging to Jimmy Ryder(Dick Russell), Cozy's father and a police detective, for which he has been suspended for one week. All of which has nothing to do with Lee inviting Cozy to go swimming in a friend's pool. Even working on a miniscule budget as she is with her first film, "River of Grass," one can see definite filmmaking promise in Kelly Reichardt that she would deliver on in her later films. As it is, there is a very cool soundtrack as she manages to capture south Florida in a unique way while beginning her specialty in following characters who achieve varying levels of success in trying to get where they are going. That might also explain the lackadaisical, yet deadpan, pacing for which I will overlook the short eternity the plot, what there is of it, takes to kick in.
a 'first-movie' not just in the fact that it is for Kelly Reichardt, but in tone too: a loose kind of noir-ish tale with a more low-key beat and looking forward for when the director really takes a hold of that "mumblecore" thing years later as it's about a mother of two and a 2nd-tier Jack Nicholson character think they've accidentally killed someone and they go on the run... not really(?) It's like the American remake of Breathless I might've wanted instead of the weak one with Richard Gere. It's a little too short to be more than a little festival experiment, but it has some good jazz, some good acting, a few genuinely weird and funny moments (some with a quirky Orthodox Jew who laughs a lot), and a final twist that seems needlessly pessimistic. Not a bad debut, not a great one either, though it does speak to Reichardt as having more of a sense of humor than her other films might lead one to believe.
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