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104 min.
Gus Van Sant
Drama, Romance
Rating *
Votes *
6.9% (1:15)
* View IMDb information

Top comments

  1. dombrewer's avatar


    Strange film, but very watchable. The Shakespeare link seems to have been tagged in later, perhaps when Van Sant realised there wasn't enough going on in the story with River passing out every two seconds. Keanu's very good, surprisingly, and any film with Phoenix is fascinating now, sadly. 9 years 11 months ago
  2. Siskoid's avatar


    I've read that Gus Van Sant combined three unfinished scripts to create My Own Private Idaho, and it shows. There's the story of male prostitutes (River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves) on the road. There's the modern adaptation of Henry IV with only slightly modified Shakespearean verse focusing on the Hal/Falstaff relationship on the streets of Portland. And there's the trip to Italy. This creates some important tonal shifts, with real male prostitutes telling horror stories for the camera, mixed in with Elizabethan delivery, beautifully real emotions, love scenes shot as erotic paintings, a musical number, and flights of surreal fancy. What brings it all together is Phoenix's character. A narcoleptic poet, he dreams of a mother figure and of a farm house in Idaho. This longing for a place to belong (ideally, someone's arms) is what drives the picture, and he keeps waking up in strange situations, having slept his life away. Because he sees the world in poetic terms, it justifies even the Shakespeare stuff. I don't think we're meant to see those scenes as fact, so much as his interpretation of them. It's a world view, filled with contradictions, stories told but not always believed, and moments preserved or lost in memory. 1 year 5 months ago
  3. Shazaaaam's avatar


    Dombrewer, I agree that the Shakespearean link felt a bit forced. (The logic of the Henry IV/Keanu character didn't make much sense here compared to play either--the businesspeople and voters of Boise will admire him all the more for having risen above a past as a gay street hustler??) Lots of lovely scenes, though, and great performances from the leads. 8 years 9 months ago
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In 11 official lists

  1. This movie ranks #10 in BFI Flare's The Best LGBTQ+ Films of All Time
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  2. This movie ranks #53 in BFI's 100 Road Movies
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  3. This movie ranks #59 in Jennifer Eiss's 500 Essential Cult Movies
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  4. This movie ranks #161 in A.V. Club's The New Cult Canon
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  5. This movie ranks #302 in The Criterion Collection
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  6. This movie ranks #429 in Mark Cousins's The Story of Film: An Odyssey
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  7. This movie ranks #564 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films
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  8. This movie ranks #590 in The New York Times's Book of Movies
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  9. This movie ranks #713 in Sight & Sound's The Greatest Films of All Time
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  10. This movie ranks #832 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
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  11. This movie ranks #873 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Cinema
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