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A River Runs Through It Review

Other Critics provided by Metacritic.com

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0
    68

    out of 100

    Metascore®
    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Dave Kehr

    A River Runs Through It emerges as hopelessly middle-brow-the kind of diluted, prettified art traditionally associated with PBS and the Academy Awards. [09 Oct 1992]

  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Mike Clark

    Though Maclean's bedrock prose is perfection in print, the film may be another case (like actor Redford's "The Great Gatsby") in which text defies translation. [09 Oct 1992]

  • 70

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Julie Salamon

    Whatever the movie's failings, it had enough poignancy and beauty to make me want to find out what was missing. [08 Oct 1992]

  • 88

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    This is a beautifully-shot film, and director Robert Redford (who also provides the voice-over narration) has paid painstaking attention to detail.

    Read Full Review

  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Redford and his writer, Richard Friedenberg, understand that most of the events in any life are accidential or arbitrary, especially the crucial ones, and we can exercise little conscious control over our destinies.

    Read Full Review

  • See all A River Runs Through It reviews at Metacritic.com

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 13+

Beautifully filmed movie about family has mature themes.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that A River Runs Through It is a 1993 Robert Redford-directed movie based on a story by Norman Maclean. Given that it's a movie set in Missoula, Mont., in the early decades of the 20th century, characters often are shown drinking whiskey and smoking cigarettes. Also, a Native American woman is referred to as an "Injun," and a character makes reference to "colored jazz." Early in the movie, two boys are shown dancing in a silly manner in front of several prostitutes lounging around behind a building. There are some fistfights -- characters are shown bloodied and bruised during and after the fights. In one scene, a character visiting from California drinks whiskey all night and well into the day and brings a prostitute with him on a fishing trip. They both pass out face down in the woods, buttocks exposed. The man is later shown trying to walk, unclothed and also with buttocks exposed, after getting a terrible sunburn.

  • Families can talk about adaptations of stories into movies. What do you see as being the challenges in adaptation?
  • How was the culture of Missoula, Mont., in the early 20th century conveyed in the film?
  • This film focuses on two brothers who are opposites in many respects. How were these "opposite" qualities revealed as the film progressed? What are some other examples of movies in which two main characters are "opposites" of each other?

The good stuff
  • message true1

    Messages: This film shows the importance of having a shared family pastime to sustain them through good times and bad. The love of nature is shown throughout the movie. The father of the two main characters is a preacher, and he sees God and spirituality in the forests and rivers the family loves so much.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: Despite their faults, Paul and Norman are brothers who love and try to take care of one another, and they care deeply about the rivers and forests around them and the fly-fishing pastime that centers their lives.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: Characters get into fistfights and are shown bruised and bloodied during and after the fights.

  • sex false2

    Sex: A character who has been drinking whiskey all night brings a prostitute with him on a fishing trip. They both pass out, and their naked rear ends are exposed. The man later is shown trying to walk, unclothed with his buttocks exposed, after getting a terrible sunburn.

  • language false2

    Language: Native Americans are called "Injuns." One character makes reference to "colored jazz." Occasional mild profanity: "damn," "son of a bitch," "bastard."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Characters often are shown drinking whiskey and smoking cigarettes. In one scene, two characters pass out by the river after drinking whiskey all night and well into the next day.

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