It’s 9:03 pm
I like to fish,I learned to fish from my step-brother Jerry. He and I used to fish on my grandfather’s ranch in the Sierra Nevada mountains located in California.
I always enjoyed just tossing in a hook loaded with chicken liver and waiting for a big catfish to hit my pole,setting off the bell I had on the tip. I used to sneak in a big lake in Southern California and fish overnight,I had some of my best fishing experiences doing that.
But truth be told,I haven’t fished in YEARS,like maybe 25 years or so. But I love watching fishing videos on YouTube so my love is still there for fishing.
When I was doing my now weekly visit to my local library,I saw “The River Why” on the shelf,I had never heard of so I took a peek. The story seemed pretty good and it had a nice cast including William Hurt so I decided to blind buy it for a watch.
The River Why is based on a much beloved book by writer David James Duncan. It’s a coming of age story of one Gus Orviston who lives with his family in Portland,Ore.
The River Why is a narrative driven story as told by Gus (Zach Gilford). We meet Gus’s overbearing dad (William Hurt) who has become a famous fly fishing writer and his Ma (Kathleen Quinlan) a “plunker of worms” who fishes for bass. Gus has a little brother,Bill Bob,who unlike the rest of his family,doesn’t like to fish at all.
One day Gus is helping his dad at a book signing,when his dad orders him to bring more boxes of books inside and is rude about it,Gus starts to head out to get them when he spots a lovely blonde giving a fly fishing lesson in a demo pool. Gus is instantly smitten and his dad literally has to reel him back inside!
Later at dinner,a very nasty fight breaks between Gus and his parents and he moves out. He rents a ramshackle cabin and decides to devote his life to one passion,fishing.
He makes out a schedule and starts fishing everyday. He kills his catch and puts them in a freezer. But as his days turn into weeks,Gus seems less happy and unsettled.
It isn’t until a incident that happens to him that will awaken in Gus that life is more then just fishing. He meets a man named Titus (Dallas Roberts) who shows Gus that life is spiritual and a lot a more in common with fishing the Gus realizes. The two bond with Gus teaching Titus to fish and Titus teaching Gus a little how life works.
When Gus stumbles across the same blonde that he saw at the fishing demo while walking down the riverside,he gets excited. The girl is fishing with a branch and is fishing for salmon. When she hooks one,she throws her pole into the water,takes off her clothes and chases it. Gus see this through a small telescope that Titus had gifted him.
Not want to startle the girl who is still nude and drying off on a warm rock,Gus leaves the telescope and a orange behind,makes some noise and the two finally meet.
The girl is Eddy (Amber Heard) and Gus is overwhelmed by her beauty and brashness. He is clearly awkward around Eddy and the first meetings with Eddy vanishing but not before she finds Gus’s telescope.
The change in Gus grows in many different ways during the summer. But what he really wants is another chance with Eddy and when that chance comes in a most unexpected way,will Gus be ready to fully embrace what becoming an adult means???
We really liked SOME parts about The River Why and other parts were just frustrating.
The performances by Gilford,Roberts and Heard were good. I think Tom Cohen and John Jay Osborn Jr’s script treated Eddy a little footloose and reckless in the most important meeting between Gus and her. Eddy was a smart girl and I didn’t see her as a careless person as she is portrayed in some spots.
Titus was a great character and his helping Gus find his way was touching and meaningful….so why did he just vanish from the movie and we never see him again?
No mentions,no phone calls…..just POOF and Titus is gone.
Gilford does a fine job as Gus,he has a really expressive face and his every emotion is shown in every scene. Gus is a good kid who is caught in a no win situation at home.
He has grown weary of the life he fears he’ll never escape and will be never be respected by his father. It was a nice turn for Zach.
In the special features,they interview the two producers of The River Why and they both say how “important” William Hurt was in getting the movie made and how excited he was to part of it…..then why is he onscreen for maybe 10 minutes,top? I think a better ending with Gus and his parents both showing each other how much they have grown would have closed this movie out a lot better then just a pair of hugs.
Director Matthew Leutwyler does his best to cover the holes,the narrative by Gus is well placed and not overbearing. But Leutwyler’s secret weapon is Oregon,itself. This indie product has a much bigger feel the most smaller budget movies do. The movie is beautiful to look at from start to finish.
The music by Austin Wintory is almost enough reason to see The River Why,lush acoustic guitars combined with soothing ballads allows the movie to breath and to wind its way on its own.
The movie was shot by Crash aka Karsten Gopinath and as I said,its an absolutely beautiful movie to watch,he catches every glimmer,sound and color of the Oregon mountains. The River Why was his first feature film and I don’t know why this very talented cinematographer isn’t in more demand.
The River Why is rated PG-13 and has a run time of 1 hr. 44 minutes.
The one special feature is a series of cast and crew interviews.
I gave The River Why a thumbs up but the cheetah,despite some good fishing scenes and unruly dog being dealt with,only gave a dew claw up.
How about you? What has been your best fishing moment in life? Have you watched The River Why or read the book? If so,share your thoughts,we love to hear from you!