River of Grass

River of Grass ★★★★½

"Once, I calculated how many hours old I was, and then estimated how many more hours there were to go. On another day, I made a list of every person I had ever known. I wondered if any of these people knew each other, and if there was any chance that they were all together now, having a party or swimming in a pool. Then I wondered if there was any other person on this planet as lonely as me."

***

Kelly Reichardt's debut, River of Grass, is something akin to what it would be like if you took every entry ever made in the well-worn "killer-couple-go-on-the-run-through-America" sub-genre - i.e. Badlands or Bonnie and Clyde or Wild At Heart or Natural Born Killers, etc - and stripped away any trace of toxic romanticism, did away with any and all cat-and-mouse thrills, had no actual crimes be committed in the first place, and had all of the characters be aimless, meandering, clueless idiots who all have no idea what the hell they're doing at any given moment, making one stupid decision after another after another, thinking they're living their own personal pulp crime fiction narratives, but constantly getting crushed like a bug by the unforgivingly monotonous unimportance that is the reality of their lives, and all of life in general.

Basically, Kelly Reichardt made in the 90's the exact sort of movie that Jeremy Saulnier makes nowadays with his "Inept Protagonist Trilogy", by way of Blue Ruin and Green Room.

(Hell, the car the hapless criminal couple drives in River of Grass is a blue car that's pretty darn similar to the eponymous blue ruin of the above-mentioned Saulnier flick.)

All in all, River of Grass is an assured, confidently envisioned, expertly executed, utterly unique, exceptionally esoteric, and just plain excellent first feature for Reichardt (who is now 2 for 2 in the films of hers that I've so far seen that I've also thought were great).

Also:
I'm disappointed in the film's lack of kitten from the film's own poster.
WHERE'S MY CUTE POSTER KITTY, GODDAMMIT?!

Also also:
Reichardt not only beat Saulnier to the punch with her "inept protagonist crime movie", but she also beat Alejandro González Iñárritu - and Birdman - to the punch by having River of Grass have an all-jazz-drums soundtrack.
(Hot-damn, this woman never ceases to amaze!)

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