Combustible Celluloid
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With: Samantha Mathis, River Phoenix, Dermot Mulroney, Sandra Bullock
Written by: Carol Heikkinen
Directed by: Peter Bogdanovich
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language
Running Time: 118
Date: 07/16/1993

The Thing Called Love (1993)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Country and Western

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Peter Bogdanovich's county music drama didn't fare very well during its 1993 theatrical run. Partly this is because Paramount didn't put much energy into its release, but it's also because Bogdanovich took it as a job for hire during a dry spell in his career, and because star River Phoenix was more than likely under the influence of drugs. He still registers as a powerful presence onscreen, but his performance is erratic, slurred and slightly crazed. The button-cute Samantha Mathis (Pump Up the Volume, Broken Arrow) stars as Miranda Presley, a New Yorker who rides the bus into Nashville with dreams of becoming the next Trisha Yearwood. She quickly meets three new friends, Kyle (Dermot Mulroney), Linda Lue (Sandra Bullock) and James Wright (Phoenix). Each are in various stages of musical success (or failure) and each falls in love -- sometimes unrequited -- with one of the others. Nothing terribly new happens here, but Bogdanovich plays out his scenes with tenderness and affection, and the honest performances spring to life.

DVD Details: For this 2005 DVD, Bogdanovich was allowed to assemble his director's cut, which runs about two minutes longer than the theatrical cut. Extras include a commentary track, a trailer and three featurettes.

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