River of Grass

River of Grass ★★★★★

This film by Kelly Reichardt is like a proto-mumblecore version of Bandlands. A Goddard's Breathless featuring a pair of bumbling dimwits. You could call this American New Stupid cinema.

This is the story of a woman whose life went too fast and she never quite caught up with it. Surrounded by a husband and three kids, she does cartwheels and daydreams in her yard.

And then there is a man whose life went so slow he is thirty going on fifthteen. He still lives in his grandmother's house and his best mate sneaks in through his bedroom window just to hang out after dark.

The River of Grass as we learn from the woman's almost affectless, slightly dazed narration is what the Native American's call the Everglades. You can't live on a river of grass and you sure can't move real fast through it. But this is the Florida that our two characters inhabit, the part that only tourists come to by mistake.

And so it is with this backdrop of a decaying, hot and seedy Florida that our characters are brought together by a single pistol shot that hurtles them on an outlaw trajectory. Ultimately, this odyssey would take them not very far at all, nor would it have much in the way of consequence either. But there is plenty of mumbling to be had inbetween.

The legacy of poor parenting when applied to a mind that would be inert at the best times is a theme that hits a number of beats throughout this film. The recollection of childhood memories flitter in out like moths attracted to the light behind an opening and closing screen door that bangs shut like a snare drum.

I liked it in all of its meandering glory. If I have made the director sound unsympathetic towards her characters then that is not quite true, and it is not without humour. You can see this same stance towards her characters in Certain Women twenty odd years later.

Oh yeh, and the woman's middle aged father plays the drums and lets loose with some cool jazz solos. So thats kind of cool.

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