Making the Grades
Family relations and the ability (or lack of) to communicate are examined in this Robert Redford film. The story centers on two brothers, Norman (Craig Sheffer) and his younger sibling Paul (Brad Pitt). Based upon an autobiography written by the eldest brother, Norman Maclean, the movie details some of the turning points during the boys' childhood and adolescence.
Except for an interest in fly-fishing, Norman and Paul are about as different as two brothers can be. Rebellious Paul is always looking for exciting alternatives in life, while steady Norman is content to follow the safer path. Meanwhile, their strict father (Tom Skerritt), a Presbyterian minister, finds it difficult to communicate with either of his children. Yet for all their diversity, each family member, including their mother (Brenda Blethyn), goes out of his or her way to try and avoid conflict with one another. Norman, especially, does all he can to protect Paul, to the point where the younger sibling never has to deal with the consequences for his actions until it's too late.
The script does a beautiful job of showing how this family reacts to save a wayward child. It allows the audience to understand how seemingly illogical decisions might be justified through the distorted view of family love.
The production contains a small amount of violence and some sexual situations, including one short scene where a naked couple is discovered asleep in the grass. While the scene exposing their nudity is short, it does offer a full rear view. However, the main concern with the film is its use of a large selection of mild and moderate profanities.
Beautifully photographed in rural Montana, A River Runs Through It may be appropriate for older teens and adults, if you are comfortable wading through the language. Offering a good, though subtle message, the movie will likely require repeated viewing in order to really understand what it is trying to say.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about A River Runs Through It.
How can you help some one you love, but who may not want your assistance? How can you tell if your good intentions are beneficial, or just facilitating the problem?