River of Grass

River of Grass ★★½

River of Grass lacks the keen understanding of social dynamics and institutions that would make Kelly Reichardt's later output so effective. The most interesting aspects of the film relate to the specific characterization as emanations from her understanding of the film's geographic and temporal setting; the lethargy of this southern Florida setting and the poverty of its denizens drive a motionlessness that even renders their attempts at changing their lives ineffective. Events that should feel large-scale simply fizzle into part of the narrative network here, and such meaninglessness is taken in stride. I imagine some viewers would see this as being to the film's benefit, though I found the static energy it creates as running thin fairly quickly.

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