River's Edge (1987)

Free Great Movies Review

  •  (3 out of 5 stars)

River's Edge (1987) plays like a very dark version of American Graffiti for the disenchanted teens of the 1980s. A teenage girl is murdered by her boyfriend, and all their friends discover the body but are too numb inside to feel or do anything about it. While it could play like a dark comedy (and does when Crispin Glover is on screen), this movie is mostly played realistically with a brooding score. The film is directed by Tim Hunter who wrote the excellent script for the far superior film Over the Edge (1979), which explored similar themes of teen angst. In Over the Edge, the teenage rebellion is more believable in the stale suburban planned community the kids are trapped in. In River's Edge, all of the kids are immediately apathetic even in the face of one of their friends getting murdered, and it's a harder pill to swallow. What holds the movie together is its excellent cast led by Crispin Glover, Keanu Reeves, Ione Skye, Joshua John Miller, and Dennis Hopper. The weakest performance comes from the murderous boyfriend played by Daniel Roebuck, whose jaded monologues aren't at all convincing from someone who has just killed. The film's general nihilistic punk rock attitude would play better in the context of dark comedy like in Alex Cox's Repo Man (1984). In the moral vacuum of River's Edge, the inability to feel emotions seems more like an indictment by the activist hippie generation on the youth of the 80s than a true examination of what the teens are going through. Director John Hughes seemed to have had a better pulse on what teenagers were experiencing at the time. River's Edge stands as probably the darkest teen film of the 80s, which made it stand out from the rest, even if its plot and characters were generally ridiculous.

(Summary from Wikipedia)