The River Wild

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This tense family-therapy thriller doesn't produce any surprises, but sometimes, perhaps, it's enough just to go along for the ride, knowing you'll arrive not too far from where you set off. Gail (Streep) whisks reluctant husband Tom (Strathairn) and troubled son Roarke (Mazzello) to Montana for a week's white-water rafting. The purpose of the trip is not only to commune with nature, but to heal the rift between husband and wife, father and son. Tom, though, is not unduly delighted to be at his wife's mercy, especially when the suspiciously charming Wade (Bacon) starts paddling in their wake, a line at the ready, a rod in his pocket. While it's true that the men rely on Streep's superior kayak skills and knowledge of the river, the movie is only interested in a kind of halfway feminism: much of it is concerned with young Roarke, and the contrasting father-figures of Wade and Tom. Bacon scores strongly, but it is Streep's beautifully natural, unshowy performance which keeps the film on course, even when the machinations of the plot become very rocky indeed.

Release details

Duration: 111 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Curtis Hanson
Screenwriter: Denis O'Neill
Cast: Meryl Streep
Joseph Mazzello
David Strathairn
Kevin Bacon
John C Reilly
Elizabeth Hoffman
Victor H Galloway
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