My Own Private Idaho is a fairly odd and unconventionally structured film. Some parts of the film border along the lines of cinéma vérité, while other scenes resemble modern day Shakespearean (the character Scott is based on Prince Hal of Henry IV) theater scenarios. The film also features random aesthetically rugged flashbacks of the character Mike (played by River Phoenix) with his mother as a child. Mike is a gay narcoleptic with a serious Oedipus complex. The only problem is that he assumes his brother is his father. I guess losing your mother and constantly longing for her can turn one perverted.
The character of Scott is a spoiled rich boy who decided to sell his ass to spite his disappointed father. Scott’s father is the mayor of Portland and believes that he has been cursed by the heavens because of the son that has been bequeathed upon him by the holy one. A homeless criminal and charismatic slob by the name of Bob taught Scott everything that he knows while also taking sexual rewards from the young boy. Scott states that Bob is more important to him than both his biological mother and father. Scott proves that you can truly find love in the most strangest of places.
Legendary Gay German actor Udo Kier stars as a German car parts salesman named Hans. Hans attempts to pick up Mike up on the road and causes the boy to have a narcoleptic episode. I guess Germans with a certain femme in their voice can be quite frightening. Scott and Mike later join Hans in a hotel for some disturbing hedonistic episodes. Afterwards, Hans becomes aroused by the stolen motorcycle he has obtained from Scott. I don’t think I have ever seen a man stroke a motorcycle in the obscene way Hans does in a trance-like state.
I would have to say that My Own Private Idaho is the most classy film I have seen with such a variety of perverts. I also never thought that barns falling from the sky and crashing onto asphalt could be so beautiful. My Own Private Idaho is easily Gus van Sants greatest and most ambitious film. The film is the gay American Odyssey that one cannot help but get lost in upon viewing. Apparently River Phoenix started using Heroin during the production of My Own Private Idaho to get into the role of a drug addicted street hustler. What an unfortunate end this decision would prove in the near future.