River of Grass

River of Grass ★★★

As a fan of Kelly Reichardt, I've wanted to see this one for a while. Kudos to Soda Pictures for including this as an extra on their Reichardt collection (although it's a shame they didn't remaster it along with the other films). It's a really interesting debut film; the voiceover definitely owes a fair amount to Badlands but the plot delights in twisting every convention of the "lovers on the run" subgenre. These two aren't really lovers, they're not really on the run, and they haven't got the funds to pay the toll out of town, let alone enough to pay for petrol and a place to stay.

The inexperience of the cast and crew is always clearly on display, but there's enough charm to the characters and the lazy Florida vibe to make this an enjoyable experience. I was particularly fond of the burned out detective taking out his frustrations on a lengthy jazz drum solo, but the brief appearance from Steve Buscemi's brother is also a treat ("hey, that guy looks a bit like Steve Buscemi!"). There's an enjoyable dry wit to a lot of the dialogue and the ending has a real punch to it - Reichardt may have gone onto (slightly) bigger and (much) better things, but her debut definitely has plenty to recommend it.

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