River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves star in Gus Van Sant’s haunting tale of two young street hustlers: Mike Waters, a sensitive narcoleptic who dreams of the mother who abandoned him, and Scott Favor, the wayward son of the mayor of Portland and object of Mike’s desire. Navigating a volatile world of junkies, thieves, and johns, Mike takes Scott on a quest from the grungy streets to the open highways of the Pacific Northwest, in search of an elusive place called home. Visually dazzling and groundbreaking, My Own Private Idaho is a deeply moving look at unrequited love and life at society’s margins. —The Criterion Collection
A director who is capable of crafting both deeply unconventional independent films and mainstream crowd-pleasers, Gus Van Sant has managed to carve an enviable niche for himself in Hollywood. Since debuting in 1985 with Mala Noche, Van Sant has become one of the premiere bards of dysfunction, populating his films with a parade of hustlers, junkies, psychopathic weather girls, homicidal teens, and troubled geniuses.
The son of a traveling salesman, Van Sant was born in Louisville, KY, on July 24, 1952. One constant in the director’s early years was his interest in painting and Super-8 filmmaking. Van Sant’s artistic leanings took him to the Rhode Island School of Design in 1970, where introduction to Avant-Garde cinema quickly inspired him to change his major from painting to cinema. After mobving to LA, Van Sant became fascinated by the existence of the marginalized section of L.A.‘s population, especially in context with the more ordinary prosperous world that surrounded them… read more
Amazing echo chamber of a film with Falstaff, Prince Hal, Orson Welles, James Dean from East of Eden, Andy Warhol & many other voices jostling around in a drama about idealism and pragmatism, true fathers and false fathers, abandonment and consolation. The mashup of genres was also surprisingly effective. I did NOT expect such a rich movie given its hype & given how just OK I found Mala Noche and Drugstore Cowboys!
Making New Queer Cinema as a genre, proud. Deeply disturbing and touching and we all wish River Phoenix was still acting.
“We sort of do the lineup by the seat of our pants.”
This film is a classic example of how few people recognize something great, until some studio finally takes a chance on it. Although the story was written before Drugstore Cowboy (popular follow up… read review