Skip to content

Directed by Gus Van Sant

United States 1991 105 mins. In English

Due to a last minute scheduling conflict, Gus Van Sant will be unable to attend the screening. However, we are pleased to announce that Idaho cinematographer Eric Edwards will be joining us in his place.

Drawing upon the inherent “road movie” qualities of Prince Hal and Falstaff’s adventures in Henry IV, indie auteur Gus Van Sant crafted this thoughtful and affecting portrait of two hustlers in search of belonging. Rebellious, privileged Scott (Keanu Reeves) stands to inherit a fortune upon his approaching 21st birthday, while his companion Mike (River Phoenix)—a gentle, winsome prostitute who struggles with disorienting lapses into narcolepsy—yearns to find his mother. The unlikely pair makes their way from the gritty streets of early-’90s Portland to a small village in Italy, even as their divergent destinies threaten to break them apart. Depicting the lives of marginalized, alienated youth through anachronistic, quasi-Elizabethan dialogue and dreamlike escapes into Mike’s unconscious world, My Own Private Idaho is a brilliant juxtaposition between gritty realism and tender fable. “Van Sant is essentially making a human comedy here, a story that may be sad and lonely in parts but is illuminated by the insight that all experience is potentially ridiculous.”—Roger Ebert.

The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.