By Eva Medoff, June 8th, 2010
Watching My Own Private Idaho, it’s easy to see the predecessor of the modern day hipster. The 1991 film, a follow up to Gus Van Sant’s professional breakthrough with Drugstore Cowboy, is about hustlers on the streets of Portland who wear dirty old boots, aviators and motorcycle jackets. The only difference between them and their modern descendants, perhaps, is that they also live in decrepit, abandoned hotels, exploit their bodies and are actually able to smoke inside diners. But the movie is much more than its setting or its fashion. It’s also a remake of Shakespeare’s Henry the V, a tale of unrequited love and, most of all, an examination of vulnerability: River Phoenix’s character is narcoleptic, leaving him at the mercy of his body and brain wherever he goes.