Robert Redford narrates, but his on-screen avatar is Craig Sheffer. He and Brad Pitt are the sons of Presbyterian minister Tom Skerritt. The sons react to their stern father’s teachings in different ways. Sheffer is the good boy who becomes the scholar, while Pitt is the hell-raising journalist with the bad gambling debts. But both brothers do inherit their father’s love of fly fishing, and that is the act that bonds the three men together.
For a film that has very little by way of…a discernible narrative arc, this is extremely compelling. The characters might be drawn in along fairly familiar lines, but the film’s low-key approach to these portrayals and to its own nostalgia makes it work. Call this a male weepie of the first order.
So, a “Deluxe Edition,” eh? Maybe the picture has been remastered, and more on that below. But the sound is still only 2.0. That limitation being a given, the result is still pretty fine. The score sounds great, with nice separation of the different instrumental voices. The dialogue never distorts, but the standout effects are some of the environmental ones. The river itself, so important to the themes of the film, has a very strong surround presence, and there are a few other striking moments too (such as a fireworks display).
I haven’t seen the original release, but I wonder how different that disc could truly be from this one. The colours are vibrant, and the flesh tones and blacks are excellent, but nothing beyond what should be taken for granted with a film that is still from the 1990s, after all. There are occasional speckles, and some of the darker scenes are a bit grainy. It looks pretty damn good for the most part, but I can’t help but think that viewers who already own a copy of the film should hang on to their wallets.
And here’s another area where the “deluxe” designation seems forced. The discs itself has some filmographies and a couple of trailers – basically nothing. The main addition is a 32-page booklet with interviews and various articles about the making of the film. It’s a nice little publication, but still weak beer compared to the real deluxe editions out there. The menu is basic.
If you don’t already own the movie, by all means pick this up. If you do, don’t bother.
Special Features List
- 32-Page Booklet