River's Edge (1986)
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River's Edge might properly be called Keanu Reeves' first "good" movie, but it's a weird one that's almost derailed by Cripin Glover's over-the-top performance. I know his character is totally fried, but still. When Dennis Hopper is in your movie playing a drug dealer who dances with his only friend, an inflatable sex doll, and you chew more scenery than he does... yeah. Even so, what makes River's Edge a winner is that it is unformulaic. I honestly couldn't tell where it was going because characters didn't act like they do in movies (except Glover, but that's because he confuses movies with reality). The central characters are a bunch of high school stoners, one of which just killed his girlfriend, and for the first act of the film, they do nothing at all about it. Just leave her lying there on the shore. Teenage apathy and nihilism is what drives (if we can use that verb, perhaps "stalls" is the better word) the narrative. We're in a depressed area, where the kids think they have no future, so it's all pointless anyway, right? Very intriguing even if the plot feels a little schizophrenic, it captures a certain mood that is anti-cinematic, in a way. And you know what? Going through Keanu's filmography chronologically, it's nice to hear a soundtrack that isn't laden with dated 80s synths and generic blaring guitars at this point.
Crispin Glover's wild over-the-top acting in this film needs to be seen to be believed. He's oddly fascinating, like everything else here. A lot of the acting is stilted and fake but together with the weird aloof ambiance and spooky visuals this filmreally does gel together as a whole. Some interesting parallels to be found with the first season for Twin Peaks, which Hunter directed episodes for a few years later.
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In 2 official lists
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This movie ranks #722 in The New York Times's Book of Movies
This movie ranks #751 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die