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My Own Private Idaho (1991) - Gus Van Sant

Related: 1991 - film - Gus Van Sant

My Own Private Idaho (1991) - Gus Van Sant [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

My Own Private Idaho (1991) - Gus Van Sant

My Own Private Idaho (1991) - Gus Van Sant [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

My Own Private Idaho (1991) is a film written and directed by Gus Van Sant, loosely based on Shakespeare's Henry IV, part 1. The film follows two street hustlers (River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves) as they embark on a journey of personal discovery that takes them to Idaho and then to Italy. Reeves's character, built around the character of Henry V in Shakespeare's play, is the son of the wealthy mayor of Portland, Oregon and claims his street behavior, which includes prostitution to male clients, is largely rebellion. Phoenix's character, however, is gay, narcoleptic and has no other means of support. The two develop a strong friendship that is tested by Reeves's ambivalence to street life and his forthcoming inheritance, as well as Phoenix's romantic affection for his companion.

My Own Private Idaho, like many arthouse movies, did not enjoy a wide release but did garner its share of critical acclaim, particularly for the photography and the performances by the actors. Critics of the film described the story as weak and meandering, and the ending as unnecessarily ambiguous. Van Sant was also criticized for his mixing of Shakespearean dialogue with more modern vernacular, in lines such as "this bike was caught with much ease." Nevertheless, the film became an instant classic of gay cinema, and a few short years later modern takes on Shakespeare's works were all the rage (with the remake of Romeo & Juliet and Shakespeare in Love, in particular). The performance by Phoenix, which was considered one of the finest of his career, permanently cemented his position as a gay icon.

Other memorable performances in the film include William Richert as a "street tutor" named Bob based on Shakespeare's character Falstaff, and German actor Udo Kier as an offbeat client. My Own Private Idaho has no direct relation to the song "Your Own Private Idaho" by the B-52's, but Van Sant does thank the group in the end credits.

In 2005 the film was cleaned and remastered by dvd archivists the Criterion Collection and released as a 2-disc set. The second disc features new interviews, outtakes and more information about the movie. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Own_Private_Idaho [Mar 2005]

Amazon review

Gus Van Sant's often-beautiful 1991 film stars River Phoenix as a narcoleptic, Seattle male prostitute and Keanu Reeves as the rich friend who agrees to help him find his mother. After a solid hour or so of the two traveling on this quest through Idaho and Italy, Van Sant throws a wrench into the works by conjuring a gay version of Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part I, with Reeves's character as Prince Hal and filmmaker William Richert (who directed Phoenix in the 1988 Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon) as a variation on Falstaff. The experiment is interesting to watch, but you can't help wondering what on earth happened to the movie. Still, the film has a cult status one can't argue with, and Phoenix gives a tragic performance that stays in the memory. --Tom Keogh for amazon.com

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