- Actors: River Phoenix, Keanu Reeves
- Directors: Gus Van Sant
- Format: PAL
- Language: English
- Subtitles: English
- Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.85:1
- Number of discs: 2
- Classification: 15
- Studio: Eiv
- DVD Release Date: 27 Jun. 2005
- Run Time: 100 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
- ASIN: B0007LEJIG
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,019 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
My Own Private Idaho [DVD]
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Quirky drama from director Gus van Zant, loosely based on Shakespeare's 'Henry IV, Part 1'. The story revolves around two Seattle street hustlers played by River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves. Mike (Phoenix) is a sensitive, gay narcoleptic who dreams of his long-lost mother during his frequent unplanned naps, while Scott (Reeves) is the self-avowedly straight rebellious son of the mayor of Portland. Together, the two friends embark on a journey to find Mike's mother.
Mapping the spaces between fortune and degeneracy, Shakespeare and street cant, Europe and the Pacific Northwest, and gay and straight, My Own Private Idaho is the 1991 masterpiece by director Gus Van Sant. River Phoenix gave the most generous and memory-searing performance of his tragically shortened career as Mike Waters, a narcoleptic street hustler in search of his mother. His best friend, Scott, played by Keanu Reeves, is a son of privilege who fosters plans of rejoining the moneyed world of his father after gallivanting with assorted urchins and ne'er-do-wells. The beautifully symmetrical story that emerges between the two is one of friendship, yearning for lost time, and sexual identity conveyed with a poet's eye for landscape. The camera lingers on abandoned houses in golden fields and time-lapse clouds, providing what T.S. Eliot called "the objective correlative"--external representations of interior emotional states. We're treated to striking iconic sequences like a barn falling from the sky and still-life scenes of carnal entanglement. The supporting cast is a rogues' gallery that includes Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Udo Kier, director William Richert, and a variety of "nonactors" pulled literally off the street to provide documentary veracity to a film that gleefully careens into riffs on Henry IV. It's beautiful.
What's also beautiful is the Criterion Collection's treatment of the film's DVD debut. The director-approved transfer successfully conveys the warmth of the film's palette of oranges and browns, and preserves the whimsical atmospherics of the yodeling country music soundtrack. Many members of the original crew contribute their fond memories to the documentary features, which include a conversation between Phoenix's sister Rain and producer Laurie Parker. There are also two lengthy audio-only conversations--one between Van Sant and Velvet Goldmine director Todd Haynes, and another between author J.T. Leroy and filmmaker Jonathan Caouette about their experiences on the street. The deleted scenes mostly suggest alternate endings that Van Sant wisely left on the cutting room floor. A superb example of a beloved film on DVD. --Ryan Boudinot, Amazon.comSee all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
Gus Van Sant's direction is impeccable. The glorious landscapes, the grime of the city and some of it's more unsavoury inhabitants, and the characters all add up to a stunning piece of film making. I'm not going to give any spoilers for those who haven't seen it. Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix are both outstanding. But it is River who steals the show, perhaps predictably, but his character is the main protagonist and as such, the story hinges around him. He was a stellar young actor who could have gone on to achieve great things, to have such a sad end is truly heartbreaking. However, even though he was so young, he left some excellent films behind him and this is most certainly one of them.
Phoenix plays Mike; Reeves plays Scott. They are two friends who each embark on a personal journey in order to discover their true 'Self'. The film opens with Mike on a deserted stretch of highway. In Idaho. Along this weird and wonderful road trip they encounter all kinds of people and problems. Mike is poor, Scott is rich. They are best friends. They are street hustlers. They are also both messed up. They sleep with men and women for money, although Scott hardly needs to for he will inherit a fortune.
Part of their journey sees Mike trying to locate his long lost mother, firstly through his older brother (James Russo) and then in Italy. Things get messy towards the end and Mike finds he has come full circle on a lonely stretch of highway. Idaho marked a major turning point in the career of Phoenix, who would have gone on to star in Interview with the Vampire (1994); Reeves did star in a vampire film after Idaho, Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992). Phoenix had previously been nominated for an Oscar for his role in Running on Empty (1988).
My Own Private Idaho is loosely based on William Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2, and Henry V.
I watched it 20 years ago (loved it), and i watched the dvd version again recently, and even after all those years this movie still mesmerises me. One aspect of 'My Own Private Idaho" that I thought was interesting was its use of Shakespeare's Henry IV (I think, but i could be wrong), with Keanu Reeves taking the role of the dissolute Prince Hal, who at the end of the film rejects his prostitute friends to emerge like 'the sun, as if from behind clouds' in order to properly inherit his father's kingdom. Reeves cruel rejection obviously destroys the character played by River Phoenix.
Outstanding film! River Phoenix was an extra-ordinary actor. Having watched the campsite scene again in My Own Private Idaho, I noticed Phoenix's body-language, and his improvisation acting skills and intonation, and i realised that he (Phoenix) was one of the greatest actors in the history of motion pictures. And there are certain scenes in Running On Empty in which he steps completely outside the box (to use a contemporary cliche).
Gus Van Sant is supposed to have fallen in love with him. Don't know if that's true or not, but in Van Sants book (available on this site) one character falls in love with another character who plays a rent Boy in a movie.
I first saw this film when I was far too young to understand what any of it was about. But, somehow, it made a big impression on me. So, I looked this film up not so long ago to check it out and to see if it left me with the same feelings as it did before.
I found it kind of sad, it's strange, because I find it heart warming and yet some how heart breaking. Sweet yet bitter!
We see the late River Phoenix playing the Oliver typed role, led by his very own Artful Dodger in the form of a young Keanu Reeves.
I was originally touched by the close friendship that they seemed to share. It seemed one of a real love that transcends sexual attraction.
There is some one-sided attraction going on in there; which the other is well aware of and doesn't mind, and I think that's what originally touched me. The concept of a straight guy being friends with a gay guy that is in love with him and it being a non-issue: A true friendship.
Watching this film again however I have a completely different take on it.
Now, it looks to me as if the whole friendship was just as one sided as the sexual attraction and that makes this film even more sad for me.
The only real plot is that one character is in search for his mother while the other tags along to hide from his father.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Love it, it gets a bit Shakespearey in the middle, a bleak beautiful wander through America in the early 90'sPublished 1 month ago by Martin Gardner
Great movie of its time with 2 of the Greatest Stars that ever graced the silver screenPublished 1 month ago by bfc197012
It was okay but I wasn't as impressed as I thought I would be judging by what people had told me. There didn't really seem to be a story or a suitable conclusion. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Glenn Haigh
I sent this dvd back as it didn't look as if it was new and bought it from HMV in Birmingham instead.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
Well acted but a bit to random and quirky for my personal taste.Published 6 months ago by matthew lester