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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Theatrical trailer
The White River Kid (Rental)
Roadshow Entertainment/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 95 mins . M15+ . PAL


What do you get when you throw some of the most talented actors around into a film with more direction changes than the Mississippi and a script that runs against the tide? The White River Kid, of course. It just flows from start to end in the most abstract and odd path. Not only does the dialogue gush like a Home and Away script trying to be intelligent, but so many threads are opened and looped around the audience with no concluding knots in place.

Bob Hoskins, Antonio Banderas, Ellen Barkin, Swoosie Kurtz and Wes Bentley take the spotlight in this con/comedy/drama/road-trip type film. But even the all-star cast can’t shine as brightly as possible when they have poor material to start with. However, there are a few odd redeeming moments. One of them lies within the heart-warmingly comic, yet equally touching Mommy Weed (Kurtz), who just adds a sly black touch to her Elvis-loving role. At moments like this, it makes the journey worthwhile, yet thankfully the stream of events flows one way towards the exit. Along the way, a cast of colourful characters are met including a blind “tea lady” (Barkin), an apparent Brother (Hoskins), a murderer on the run (Bentley), the little yee-haw girl that runs after the Kid (Dickens) as well as a corrupt singing policeman and of course the disturbingly slick Mexican conman (Banderas). But in the end something is missing. The rapid misdirection and suddenly violent redirection just doesn’t play on the genre, and adds a dark tone to an already blackly comic story. Too many doors are opened and not enough of them are closed.

Brother Edgar is a sock salesman, raising money for some non-existent Blind orphans along with his Mexican companion. While in Arkansas they come across the local legend, the White River Kid, believed to have murdered half a dozen people. After a tip is given by Brother Edgar, the Kid follows along, with his new fiancée, Apple Lisa, in tow, on a trip to Lomaz Falls and Apple Lisa’s home for the wedding. It is at this point that suspicions come up, cons start appearing and it all just seems to filter off like the delta at the mouth of a river, sweeping in a watery fashion at the end.


The video is presented in an enhanced widescreen aspect and looks great, as we have all come to expect from Roadshow. Colours are rich and bright, yet do look a little over-saturated and the best way to describe it is very NTSC-like. Skin tones are a little orange at times, but greens, blues and browns all scrub up brilliantly. The transfer is remarkably clean, with a pristine clarity to the image throughout the film. A fine swish of grain faintly floats over the image, but nothing remotely distracting. The odd broken line slips past, a subtle reminder that you’re watching a digital video, and luckily compression related artefacts are limited to this. Being a single-sided, single-layered disc there is no layer change to contend with, and the solo English subtitle track is clear to read, and superbly set out with the titles appearing underneath the character speaking. They are slightly edited, but not too bad overall.

However, with the accents the solo Dolby Digital 5.1 English audio means the subtitles are needed a little too often. Hoskins speaks with a rich and corny Mid-American accent, Banderas speaks quickly with his thick accent, and Kim Dickens with her piercingly annoying screech (not speech) was just the last straw as this reviewer found the ‘Subtitle’ button on the remote. Apart from this accents issue, dialogue is clear with no distortion and a superb fidelity. 5.1-wise, this soundtrack tends to lack in the fullness area, with a fairly quiet rear half of the soundstage, and a very centred front half of the soundstage. Even ambient effects and music are rarely heard in the rear channels, and the subwoofer barks every now and then, but just lacks the punch of most other 5.1 tracks. The packaging states a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is also present, but alas none was found.

Extras-wise, this rental disc features a hidden Easter egg (you know where to look for the whereabouts of this) and a theatrical trailer, and a bad theatrical trailer at that. You know some trailers suck you right in and others just tend to go on and on and on? Well this one just keeps going. Not to mention the plot spoilers along the way...

For a hard-done-by’s night of rental viewing, this is passable, but just so wandering in nature. Where is it going? Where did it come from? What is it doing? Well presumably it may be gathering dust for a while on the video store shelves, but for fans of the leading actors it may be worth hiring. The key words there being “may” and “be”...

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  •   And I quote...
    "Where is this River going?"
    - Martin Friedel
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Philips DVD 736K
    • TV:
          TEAC EU68-ST
    • Receiver:
          Sony HT-SL5
    • Speakers:
          Sony SS-MSP2
    • Centre Speaker:
          Sony SS-CNP2
    • Surrounds:
          Sony SS-MSP2
    • Subwoofer:
          Sony SA-WMSP3
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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