If you saw River’s Edge sometime ’round when it was first released in 1986, you probably remember it to be a powerful, disturbing piece of work, a kind of anti-John Hughes movie as it slowly but surely paints its portrait of disaffected and misguided youth. You might want to just hold on to those satisfying memories and leave this film in the past, as time hasn’t been particularly kind to it — it comes across now as sketchy and incomplete, with uneven performances from the ensemble and sometimes awkward direction from Tim Hunter kind of throwing everything off-kilter. However, if you’ve never seen River’s Edge, then by all means check it out on Netflix Instant — it is something of an anti-model of its kind, a scrappy, rough-edged loner of a movie that paved the way for other moody cinematic rebels like Heathers. Either way, what might make or break it for you is Crispin Glover‘s central performance as Layne, a high school slacker suddenly and almost psychotically driven to protect his friend Samson (Daniel Roebuck) after he strangles his girlfriend to death, an act greeted with indifference by most of his peers — Glover’s a (often distracting) force of nature here; brilliant one second and inexplicably clownish the next, bending and weaving the film to his weirdo whim. Keanu Reeves does some good work as Matt, who becomes what little conscience the film has, as does Dennis Hopper as Feck, a one-legged fugitive who hides from what the world has become in a run-down house.
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