REVIEW: Once Upon a River

When the movie began, there was a quick succession of jarring, high intensity events, without much background about the characters or context for them. As the movie progressed, the storyline moved slower and slower, which caused my interest to wane. I liked the movie as a whole, but I would most likely not recommend to a friend, because of the lack of character depth and the slow pace of the movie.

One point I think that is important to discuss about this movie is the lack of character background or profundity. Right away, the main character experiences several tragedies and traumas, and the audience barely knows who she is, so it is hard to know if these are routine, or actually traumatic. We as an audience aren’t given almost any background about what her life usually consists of, which makes these first few events very disorienting. This also made it somewhat difficult to empathize with her struggles at first. I find that this often happens when a movie is adapted from a book, which can have a much richer expansion of details and exposition, as well as elaboration on thoughts of the characters. This was especially tough because the main character was meant to be mostly quiet and broody, so I feel like the movie audience missed out on a lot of her personality and feelings about what was going on in her journey.

Something I loved about the movie was that the characters were all so different and interesting people. As the main character travels along the river and beyond, she comes across people with such rich and unique lives. However, I felt like the movie lacked woefully in giving them their full background and history that would have really improved the movie. However, what I did learn about the people she met was so intriguing, especially because I felt like I was getting a glimpse into a world that I have never experienced or even brushed up against. I found it especially interesting to see the characters in the movie because it was set in rural upper Michigan.

This movie was certainly unique, but the underdeveloped characters and lack of excitement made it less enjoyable than it could have been. I think that the book was probably very enjoyable and interesting, but the adaptation into a movie did not exactly do the story justice. While I was definitely fascinated by the storyline and characters, I would not choose to watch this movie again or recommend it to others.

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