The River puts fundamental American values to the test in a society that has come unglued. Stripped down to the bare essentials few people actually ever come into contact with, pic remains a rather private ordeal observed from the outside looking in. There is a victory at the end, but not a sense of lasting triumph.
Setting the tone is the Garvey family battling the flood waters of the river to save their farm. Farmers are forced to sell off their land with hungry wolf businessman Joe Wade (Scott Glenn) waiting to pick up the pieces.
Glenn, as the silver-spoon kid and Spacek’s former lover, is the film’s most complex creation. Though he is the malignancy behind much of the farmers’ troubles, director Mark Rydell allows him to maintain a level of humanity.
1984: Nominations: Best Actress (Sissy Spacek), Cinematography, Original Score, Sound, Special Achievement Award (Sound Effects Editing)