River of Grass

Watch River of Grass

"Being outlaws was rougher than they thought"
  • NR
  • 1995
  • 1 hr 16 min
  • 6.5  (2,360)
  • 71

River of Grass is a 1994 American independent crime film by Kelly Reichardt, which takes place in southwestern Florida. The film, shot in a static, unadorned style, tells the story of a disenchanted housewife with dreams of adventure, who convinces a small-time criminal to join her on a frivolous, ill-conceived crime spree. The film begins with a tight shot of a hand holding a cigarette, the smoke slowly rising up to the camera as the credits roll. Then we see Cozy, a bored and restless housewife in her late twenties, tending to her young daughter in their rundown suburban Florida house. Cozy (played by Lisa Donaldson) dreams of getting away, of adventure and excitement, yet she's stuck in a dead-end marriage with a man who barely acknowledges her existence. One evening, she goes out to a bar seeking escape from the tedium of her life, where she meets Lee (played by Larry Fessenden), a low-level criminal with a rough edge and a chip on his shoulder.

Although the two impulsively hit it off, Lee is hesitant to bring Cozy into his world of petty crime. However, Cozy, hungry for anything new or different, convinces Lee to take her along on a wild, ill-conceived crime spree across the sun-drenched swamps of southern Florida. The two are amateurish and inept, but they also believe themselves to be tough and invincible, which leads them down a dangerous path.

Along the way, the two round up a series of shady characters including a drifter who joins them at a motel and a gun dealer who takes them for a ride through the Everglades. However, the crime spree Cozy and Lee embark on is less of a Bonnie and Clyde adventure than it is a hapless and bizarre series of mishaps, with repeated failures and dead ends.

River of Grass is a darkly comedic take on the crime genre, as it slyly subverts the conventions of this typically male-dominated territory. Cozy and Lee's crime spree is characterized by incompetence and bad luck rather than daring exploits or violent confrontations. In many ways, the pair's lack of commitment to their criminal endeavors serves as a metaphor for their larger dissatisfactions with their lives.

Through the course of the film, Reichardt deftly explores themes of desire, desperation, and the illusions that lead people to make foolish choices. She also offers a subtle critique of the greater American cultural portrait of the promise of adventure, limits of the American Dream and notion of lawlessness as romantic.

Shot in a raw, observational style, River of Grass has an almost documentary feel to it, and Reichardt showcases her great talent for capturing the quiet desperation of life on the edges of America. The swampy landscapes of southwestern Florida are a fitting backdrop for this crime tale, emphasizing the abandoned and forgotten aspect of the region.

With its delightfully deadpan humor and wistful atmosphere, River of Grass is a film that lingers long after the credits roll. Reichardt's debut feature offers an unconventional take on a familiar genre, and through Cozy and Lee's misguided criminal escapades, manages to say something poignant and thought-provoking about the American experience.

River of Grass is a 1995 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 16 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.5 and a MetaScore of 71.

River of Grass
Where to Watch River of Grass
River of Grass is available to watch free on Plex and Kanopy. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Amazon Prime, Apple TV Channels, The Roku Channel, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent River of Grass for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 16 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.5  (2,360)
  • Metascore