Fishing is fairly foreign to me I admit it. The idea that you have to get up at the crack of dawn just to sit in a rusted over boat without saying a word to only catch not a darn thing seems like a waste of time if nothing else. The television fishing shows on TBS do not make it sound any better either. The only thing appealing to me about it is if you can find some beautiful scenery to fish in. Perhaps a place like Oregon, which is the setting for our new review: The River Why.
There is nothing like fly fishing up in the lakes of Oregon just outside of Portland. At least that is what Gus (Augustine) Orviston (played by Zach Gilford) has always thought. Why even as a baby, he was delivered underwater (in a tub). He would sleep with a pet fish; he would be able to catch his own fish even at ten years old. Gus loves fish and everything to do with fishing, well except his fishing crazy parents.
Let’s see, there is Ma (played by Kathleen Quinlan) who is just as good as any male fisherman. Then, the father who is affectionately known as H2O (played by William Hurt) is an author that writes about fishing. Gus mostly helps his father by carrying his books to signings which he does not like too much. However, in the midst of one signing Gus spots an attractive female fisherman (played by Amber Heard).
However due to shyness, he is not able to introduce himself to her and the opportunity is lost after she gets thrown out for protesting over how the salmon are being treated by the city. Later, Gus sits down with his family to have dinner. During the dinner, an argument ensues between Gus and his parents. All of the sudden, rage takes over with Ma slapping Gus and Gus clearing the table. This all culminates with the family’s prized stuffed fish meeting the fireplace in a spectacular sight.
Gus decides to set out on his own, taking his truck and going off to the lakes of Oregon. Here he has the ideal life, he sets the schedule he wants which basically only includes eating, sleeping and fishing. Mostly fishing. He visits the local Fly Shop and sells what he is not able to eat. Soon, a local family takes to him and also helps by providing him with produce and other fresh farm groceries. Gus even catches a smaller fish and keeps him as a pet in a nearby tank. Life is good.
However, Gus’s life is not just about fishing (no matter how much he would like it to be). First, he finds a dead body but becomes a local hero when he does everything he can to make sure the body is properly buried. Then he makes a friend in Titus (played by Dallas Roberts), a young man around his age. But the true pivotal point in the movie comes in the form of Eddy (the same young fisherwoman from earlier) who he spots naked fishing one day with his telescope. Things are looking up for this fisherman.
Wait, back up the truck. Naked fishing? Yes, Amber Heard naked fishes in this film. That ought to sell a few copies right there. However, don’t get too excited (even though she is gorgeous), its masked mostly by water and camera angles. That aside, this is a weird movie. Let me explain. The casting is fairly solid. I thought Gilford did a good job as did Heard, Hurt, Quinlan and all of the other characters in the film. The story is relatively simple and straight forward. But there is just something missing.
The writing is all over the place. We get an angle (ha, fishing pun) after Gus moves to the wilderness about a dead body that he rescues. There seems to be so much more to that but all the film does is drop it like a bad habit after about 5 minutes. In fact, by looking at the cover, it would imply that this is a love story between Gus and Eddy. Well, there is that in there but this is mostly more false advertising.
What this film really is a coming of age story. (I hate using that word, but I’ll explain why later). Gus learns to become a man. He learns how to take care of himself and he makes something of himself in the world he has come to known. This movie really should have been promoted in that sense and I think many fans of the sport would pick up on this instantly. Instead, the film feels messy and at 104 minutes, surprisingly a little thin.
The video is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen in 1080I. Besides the eye candy of Amber Heard, this film is gorgeous. This film was filmed in Portland, Oregon and is simply breathtaking. Scenery is lush, lakes feel serene, everything is just amazing out in the wilderness. If I ever was going to fish again, I would want it to be in a place like this. Simply amazing, and I am not sure why they did not go 1080P here. That is the only minor flaw I could find.
The audio is presented in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Not quite as impressive as the audio, but there is still a lot of reasons to be happy with the audio track. Dialog is strong, and there are no problems with deciphering dialog at normal levels. Surrounds are frequent but perhaps not as plentiful as I expected considering the environment. This track is quite good as it will give you a taste of the Oregon waters. Subtitles are included in English SDH and Spanish.
- Interviews 38:58: Seven different interviews are included here from the likes of Amber Heard, Kathleen Quinlan, the producer, the director, the screenwriter (not to be confused with the writer), William Hurt and Zach Gilford. There is actually a drinking game that can be played with this set of interviews. Every time they say, “coming of age”, take a shot. You will be completely sloshed halfway through the proceedings. Honestly, I don’t think the actors or the crew could describe the film in any other way.
- Trailer 2:42: The original trailer. Again, marketing undoes this film. It is done chronologically out of order and completely alienates its intended audience and also frustrates those who would actually go and see it.
This film is actually based on a book by David James Duncan. The film rights were sold a while back and because of lawsuits and such, the film did not get off the ground until 2008. Why? Well he did not approve of how they were handling the film and also alleged copyright infringement. So as a result, his name appears nowhere in the film as well as the Sierra Club’s name. The film rights did go back to Duncan (so he can make another film if he so chooses), but this film got to keep its name.
The River Why is not a bad movie. Actually at the end of the day, I enjoyed the overall theme of the movie. It has a great cast and the only real faults I could find was perhaps advertising and rushing from one subject to another. The disc has some of the best video I have ever seen and the extras are mildly interesting. It is a decent film but just gets a little bit muddy from time to time. If only they had advertised this film to actual fisherman instead of rom-com fanatics, it would have probably done a lot better.