My Own Private Idaho
My Own Private Idaho (1991)

Gus Van Sant's dreamtime riff on Shakespeare's "Henry IV, Parts I and II" features River Phoenix as Mike Waters, a narcoleptic male hustler who is first seen drifting on a stretch of highway in Idaho. Mike shifts from… More

Directed By:
Rated: R
Running Time:
Release Date: October 18, 1991
DVD Release Date: March 1, 2005
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Critic Score: 82% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews

Consensus: A tantalizing glimpse of a talented director and his stars all at the top of their respective games, Gus Van Sant's loose reworking of Henry IV is smart, sad and audacious.

Jonathan Rosenbaum
Chicago Reader

A simultaneously heartbreaking and exhilarating road movie.

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Dave Kehr
Chicago Tribune

This is a very rich, very sympathetic piece of work.

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Cole Smithey

"My Own Private Idaho" is both a love story and a tragedy. It remains the high point in Gus Van Sant's career.

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Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times

Holding all these elements together is Van Sant's sensibility, such an elusive thing it instinctively squirms away from any attempt to pigeonhole it.

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Richard Schickel
TIME Magazine

[Van Sant] disdain[s] narrative. He got away with Drugstore Cowboy because its band of drugged-out dodoes were engaged in a petty crime spree that almost passed for a plot. But My Own Private Idaho is a different story. Or rather nonstory.

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Stephen Hunter
Baltimore Sun

Cracked and beautiful, stranger than strange, yet in some assuring way so pulsing with life that it embraces you as warmly as Father Knows Best.

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Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer

Although River Phoenix has distinguished himself as an actor ever since his second film, Stand By Me, nothing he has ever done before prepares you for his performance in Private Idaho as the motherless, homeless, loveless piece of human driftwood.

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Michael Upchurch
Seattle Times

One of the most original cinematic talents at work in this country, Van Sant has a knack for pulling disparate elements together and twisting them into wildly funny lyrical odysseys of the mind and heart.

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Candice Russell
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Van Sant proves again that he is masterful at charting the hearts and minds of young people adrift.

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More reviews for My Own Private Idaho

Flixster Audience Score: 81% Flixster User Reviews
Chris Weber
Once in a while, I do enjoy Gus Van Sant, who, for me, is a lot like Steven Soderbergh: really versatile, talented, and definitely important. This movie has… More
Graham Jones
Beautifully shot and with great performances, this uneasy story pulls you in. A surprising role by Udo Kier is an extra bonus.
paul oh
A strong beginning that becomes a bit cryptic towards the end, My Own Private Idaho is a respectable piece of film and is pure Van Sant. The poetic dialogue in… More
River Phoenix, Keanu Reeves, Rodney Harvey, James Russo, Chiara Caselli, Rodney Harvy, Udo Kier, Flea, Michael Parker, Jessie Thomas DIRECTED BY: Gus Van… More
Tim Salmons
Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho is less a film about the physical and more about the spiritual. Loosely based on Shakespeare, it's a… More
Conner Rainwater
It's a movie that is certainly not for everyone, but I feel that it is a complete masterpiece. Sure it's odd at times and extremely different from… More