River's Edge | Chicago Reader

River's Edge

Something very odd about this 1986 feature: a teen problem drama fighting David Lynch battles with its own right-thinking consciousness. Teenpic auteur Tim Hunter (Tex) isn't one to shirk his sentimental lessons, but the cautionary outlines of his story, about a gang of high school drifters who try to cover up a murder by a hulking 16-year-old psycho, have a hard time pushing through the surreal atmospherics of the images (by Blue Velvet cinematographer Frederick Elmes: maybe they should have called this Nightmare on Elmes Street or Blue Velveteen?). It's not easy keeping track of all the contradictory tensions, and the film seems forever on the verge of spinning totally out of control, though whose control—Hunter's? Elmes's? anyone's?—it's hard to say. Still, it's more a success than a failure, if only because the confusions are so protean. With Keanu Reeves, Ione Skye, Daniel Roebuck, Joshua Miller, and Roxana Zal. R, 99 min.

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