It's not where you go.
It's how you get there.
Gus Van Sant takes us to the underbelly of life on the streets of Portland, Oregon and introduces us to two male hustlers, Mike and Scott. They live on the streets, do drugs and sell their bodies. Mike is quiet, gay and suffers from narcolepsy. Abandoned as a child he is obsessed with finding his long-lost mother. Scott, on the other hand, comes from a wealthy family, and is slumming it until he is eligible to recieve his inheritance. Together, these disparate friends begin an odyssey from Oregon to Idaho and beyond in search of Mike's mother.
"Mapping the spaces between fortune and degeneracy, Shakespeare and street cant, Europe and the Pacific Northwest, and gay and straight, My Own Private Idaho is the 1991 masterpiece by director Gus Van Sant. River Phoenix gave the most generous and memory-searing performance of his tragically shortened career as Mike Waters, a narcoleptic street hustler in search of his mother. His best friend, Scott, played by Keanu Reeves, is a son of privilege who fosters plans of rejoining the moneyed world of his father after gallivanting with assorted urchins and ne'er-do-wells. The beautifully symmetrical story that emerges between the two is one of friendship, yearning for lost time, and sexual identity conveyed with a poet's eye for landscape. The camera lingers on abandoned houses in golden fields and time-lapse clouds, providing what T.S. Eliot called "the objective correlative"--external representations of interior emotional states. We're treated to striking iconic sequences like a barn falling from the sky and still-life scenes of carnal entanglement. The supporting cast is a rogues' gallery that includes Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Udo Kier, director William Richert, and a variety of "nonactors" pulled literally off the street to provide documentary veracity to a film that gleefully careens into riffs on Henry IV. It's beautiful..."--Ryan Boudinot