My Own Private Idaho (1991)

My Own Private Idaho (1991), written and directed by Gus Van Sant.

Sex workers have to put up with a lot. Young male hustlers have mostly male clients whatever their own preferences. Poor scruffy and narcoleptic Mikey Waters (River Phoenix) loves suave Scott Favor (Keanu Reeves), the mayor's son who is slumming among the street people for a while. Scott sells his body at the moment but will return to women when he comes into his own. And Mikey? Well, what about him?

This is a remarkably inventive and touching story of hard lives. We have the characters as talking magazine covers, and they will freeze into a tableau for the passion scenes. Finally everyone starts speaking approximate Shakespeare from the Henry IV plays.

Keanu is now Prince Hal, William Richert (previously unknown to me) as Bob Pigeon is hearty criminal Falstaff, and River Phoenix is... one of those secondary characters the Prince leaves in his wake, unloved and even unremembered. Discarded. All the cast is good but these three are particularly fine.


Criterion Blu-ray.