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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
PG
Cast
Craig Sheffer
Brad Pitt
Tom Skerritt
Brenda Blethyn
Emily Lloyd.
Directors
Robert Redford.
Screenwriters
Richard Friedenberg.
Running Time
118 minutes

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A River Runs Through It
Brad Pitt whips out his tackle.


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Plot
Two sons of a Presbyterian minister maintain their relationship through a common love of fly-fishing, despite increasing personal differences.


Review

Adapted from Norman Maclean’s best-selling autobiographical novella of the same name, Robert Redford’s first directorial outing since 1988’s The Milagro Beanfield War is a ravishingly photographed, elegiac memoir of Maclean’s younger brother Paul, and a rumination of the finer points of that most uncinematic of pastimes, fly-fishing.
 
          Lyrical without begin trite, this captivates from the moment Redford’s effortless voice-over slides and we flashback to the narrator’s childhood in Montana at the turn of the century – a time untouched by war, and a place seemingly blessed. For the male members of the Maclean family – Presbyterian minister Tom Skerritt and his two young sons, Norman and Paul – there is one place where communication between them is possible, here on the Big Blackfoot River, where life, religion and art merge as one; as they cast their fishing lines into the water, a hithero untapped harmony descends upon them.
 
          Years pass by in a blur of sepia-tinted photos, eventually settling in 1926 when Norman returns from college, wise in the ways of prose, but a man still in his father’s shadow. Paul is the wild card of the pair, a consummate fly-fishing artist, a killer with the ladies, and a liability for the operators of the local gambling den when he runs up huge debts. In the role, Pitt showed the first inkling that he was more than a pretty face, turning in a layered performance that anchors the entire movie. It’s a part Redford knows well – all bright-eyed brilliance and fatal inevitability – and 20 years ago he would have played it himself.
 
          Consequently, Sheffer’s Norman is less well defined, a stoic proposition lacking his sibling’s pose, flair and looks, his character’s relationship with Jessie the only one in the movie that fails to convince.
 

          That aside this is an elegant if simply structure film, one crafted with a warmth and understanding reflective of the director enamoured of his subject matter – Redford courted Maclean for years to gain the rights to the book. And, despite being at least half an hour too long, there is much to be recommended – from Phillippe Rousselot’s exquisite cinematography, with the stunning scenery of Montana as a backdrop, to Redford’s assured direction, this is utterly alluring, and manages to make fly-fishing seem not just romantic, but thrilling.


Extras

A River Runs Through It A River Runs Through It
Released: 01 June 2001
Trailer.


Verdict
Don't be put off by the fact that this is a fishing movie, A River Runs Through It is about as absorbing as it gets.


Reviewed by

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for A River Runs Through It
Empire Star Rating

Bizarre rating indeed

3 Stars? Really? Clearly the review and star rating don't match. I'm getting increasingly confused by Empire's review system, and it is starting to mean less to me than it used to. Really hope they sort this out. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jrewing1000 at 15:53, 15 December 2011 | Report This Post


good film, bizzare review

'this is utterly alluring' 'A River Runs Through It is about as absorbing as it gets.' 'this captivates from the moment Redford’s effortless voice-over slides' and yet you give it the same amount of stars as the sisterhood of the travelling pants 2... good film, bit long, probably worth 4 stars if viewed with a few beers without expectations. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by meltbananastu at 19:16, 04 January 2009 | Report This Post


RE: A River Runs Through It

I remember really liking this when I first watched it, but I re-watched it recently and found it quite dull actually. Brad Pitt is very aesthetically pleasing in it though ;) ... More

Posted by travel_crazy at 21:02, 13 March 2007 | Report This Post


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