My Own Private Idaho

My Own Private Idaho ★★★½

Even with the liberated mores of 2017 we can't have a "young shakespeare who fucks" show that doesn't hew close to the author's traditional hetero understanding. Born poor and debatably queer later on, My Own Private Idaho is one of the only Shakespeare films that actually deals with the schism between the aristocratic prestige of the Shakespeare taught in school and the humble waywardness of Shakespeare as he most likely existed, with Reeves' mayor's son as the accepted Will and Phoenix as the disavowed one relegated to the dregs of history. There's some stilted 90's indie acting tics and soundtrack choices that still don't fully work for me but Van Sant's general attempt to mesh the respectable legacy of Shakespeare with the disreputably and transgressive queer art of Genet or Fassbinder is alternately bracing and heartbreaking regardless.

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