zoë’s review published on Letterboxd:
80s/early 90s cinema will always be my favorite era of film. I don't know if it's because it's shot on film or because of the performances, but everything just feels so authentic. It's as if Gus Van Sant went into the world and made sure that he captured true stories of real people. From the scenes in the commune house to the scene where Mike and Scotty play a prank on Bob, everything just feels so heartfelt and real, and it's overwhelmingly beautiful.
And can we talk about the performances?!
Simply put, Keanu is stunning. There's just something about repressed characters who can articulate the deepest of their intellectual thoughts, but can't speak their feelings. It makes me feel seen. Scotty appears so put together so in touch with who he is, but he's about to force himself into living a lie for the rest of his life. And there's something about the way he cares for everyone over himself.
And him not being able to accept that Mike loves him because despite being around all these people who do love him (Bob, Mike), he just can't comprehend that someone would actually truly love and see him for who he really is. But just because he can't verbalize his love for Mike, we see it in him giving away his jacket to Mike. We see it in him leaving him in a rich neighborhood instead of taking him back to the city. We see it in the way that he repeatedly leaves Mike in trustworthy hands, and that he's never far away from him, and that he'll always be there when Mike wakes up. And we see it most in his decision to spend the last week of his "free" life with his best friend and to travel all the way around the world to help him find his family. He's so willing to do this for someone, and it breaks my heart that he feels that he doesn't deserve or isn't capable of receiving the same treatment.
And River. Wow. Just wow. This is the first thing I've seen him in, and wow, the world truly lost a legend. He's such a sincere actor. Watching him felt like these characters were real people with real stories. He seems so mature in the fact that he's a hustler, but the scene where he's watching The Simpsons is just so touching. It reminds me of him saying if he had a normal family, he's be a well-adjusted person, and we see that in this moment.
But even though he doesn't have a normal upbringing and wasn't "well-adjusted," he knows himself like really knows himself and that is a feat in and of itself. Sometimes I was reminded that he was young through his actions and dialogue, but others, I had to stop and constantly tell myself that he was the younger one between him and Scotty. Especially during the funeral scene. I think he had the group do Bob's funeral near Scotty's dad's funeral on purpose. Although Scotty had to attend his real father's funeral, he was still able to be apart of Bob's funeral who he loved more than his dad. The way Mike kept looking up at him as if saying "See. I did this for you," yeah, it hurts.
And the campfire scene. Oh, the campfire scene. Yeah. Just yeah. Again, I go back to Scotty normally being the articulate one, and how the roles were reversed in this scene. Mike so effortlessly shares his feelings even though he's scared, and Scotty doesn't know what to say. But sometimes words aren't enough, and him making room and hugging Mike and telling him to come over and sleep, yeah, that's a love declaration for me.
This was really long, but basically I just want to say how much I love 80s/90s cinema. Between this and My Beautiful Laundrette (another classic) these films overflow with sincerity and authenticity that is rare to find in films today. It actually reminds me Xavier Dolan's films in a way, somehow.
Anyways, tl:dr this movie put me together and broke me, and I appreciate that. I will be rewatching many many times but only up until they get to Italy. :)