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Friday, June 9, 2017

The River (1984)

A farmer (Mel Gibson) and his wife (Sissy Spacek) are struggling to keep their farm. Corporations and banks work against them in foreclosing on their farms while mother nature does its share by raining and flooding their crops. Directed by Mark Rydell (ON GOLDEN POND), the film had the misfortune of coming out the same year as two other farm films (PLACES IN THE HEART, COUNTRY) which stole its thunder. I wouldn't call it the best of the three but there's a lot to like here, notably stellar work from Spacek (who was Oscar nominated for her performance here) as well as Vilmos Zsigmond's rich cinematography of the Tennessee rural location. Gibson's performance is good but it's difficult to get past his movie star good looks and the film might have benefited if he had switched roles with the more rugged looking Scott Glenn (as a land developer). The movie does a decent job of looking at how farms are rapidly becoming imperiled by corporations and the complex issue of doing what it takes to survive versus doing the right thing. John Williams' score (also Oscar nominated) is lovely but often inappropriate. In some of the more intense scenes, his score is inexplicably jaunty. With Billy Green Bush and James Tolkan.

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