Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “My Own Private Idaho”
By: Brian Cotnoir
Gus Van Sant’s 1991 Independent film “My Own Private Idaho” is one of the best independent films ever made and is a film that should be seen and enjoyed by everyone. “My Own Private Idaho” is the story of a narcoleptic gay street hustler, named Mike Waters, as he journeys across the country and the globe with his best friend, Scott, turning tricks and searching for Mike’s long lost mother. The role of Mike Waters is played by River Phoenix. Phoenix does a marvelous job in his portrayal of the street hustler Mike Waters. His character is very likeable and humorous, but also makes you feel sympathetic towards him and his life throughout the movie. The role of Mike’s best friend, Scott Favor, is played by Keanu Reeves. Get used to hearing me say this in a lot of my film reviews; Keanu Reeves is the worst actor ever! Reeves character in this film is the son of the Mayor of Portland, Oregon and he plans to keep turning tricks until his 21st birthday, when he is set to inherit a large fortune. Scott is heterosexual, but he does do “gay for pay”. Scott doesn’t realize that his best friend Mike is actually gay until he comes out to him one night and confesses his love for Scott as they sit around a camp fire. Even after that awkward moment, Scott decides to stick by Mike and help him locate his mother. Their journey takes them from Oregon, to Idaho and eventually to Italy. While in Italy, Scott falls in love with a beautiful Italian girl named, Carmella. Scott’s relationship with Carmella does take a toll on his friendship with Mike, and Mike is forced to return to the U.S. alone without finding his mother. The film ends with the stories of what became of Mike and Scott and the two different lifestyles they would go on to live.
I found this film to be very enjoyable. Director Gus Van Sant did a great job on this film. He was able to create a story that is sad, funny, interesting, and mysterious. All the characters, big and small, are very entertaining; one of the other street hustlers in the film is actually played by Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. So, if you haven’t seen “My Own Private Idaho”, do you yourself a favor and see it; you will not be disappointed.