The River Wild (1994)

Director Curtis Hanson
Writer Denis O’Neill

Meryl Streep, Kevin Bacon, David Strathairn, Joseph Mazzello, John C Reilly.

In this mid 90’s action thriller we see the story of former thrill seeker Gail (Streep), now a middle aged housewife with a troubled marriage. She has planned a white water river travel for her son’s (Mazzello) birthday, having once upon a time been a guide on the river herself. On the journey they meet two inexperienced men (Bacon and Reilly) who might be more than they appear.

I have a soft spot for this movie, for several reasons. Firstly the scenery is breathtaking, and complements the film, and practically becomes a character in the film itself. The cinematography by Robert Elswit is brilliant, as we switch between close up shots of moments with the characters within the rafts, to the wide open shots of the open world around them.

The acting is on point, and Streep absolutely nails her performance as the heroine who seems to have been almost suffocated by the life she currently leads. Her back-story is given time to develop over the course of the movie. She is both a relatable and sympathetic protagonist.

The music from late great composer Jerry Goldsmith is memorizing, and the fact he was brought on to compose the music for the film after principle photography was done is astounding. He is one the best composers of the 90’s – and it should be noted he composed the music to my favourite movie The Edge.

I also always loved this movie because I always related myself to Joseph Mazzello (I was born in the same week as him) so I enjoyed his movies growing up (Jurassic Park being the main one). Watching this as an adult now of 39, I think I enjoyed it more-so because I could actually relate to the adult characters as well (although not to the extent).

I honestly believe the 1990’s brought out some brilliant cinema, and this is a forgotten gem of that decade. If you haven’t seen it before, I highly recommend it!

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