River of Grass

Director: Kelly Reichardt
Screenwriters: Kelly Reichardt

Institute History


Early in Kelly Reichardt’s River of Grass, Cozy wonders what would drive a woman to violence. She decides it wouldn’t be one big thing “but a lot of little things that just grew deeper and deeper under her skin.”

Reichardt’s first feature is a compendium of those little things. When discontented Cozy meets rootless Lee in a bar and takes off with him, they become the least likely couple ever to go on a crime spree, and Reichardt subtly, but steadily, overturns B-movie conventions. The two aren’t even clever enough to escape from Dade County, Florida, where their supposed crime occurs.

The camera wanders as aimlessly as the two main characters, randomly accumulating the details of everyday life, and the tight framing and atmospheric lighting create a feeling of entrapment. Cozy’s expressionless voiceover comments sound like diary excerpts from a girl desperate to be the heroine of her story. The surrounding cast, including Cozy’s dad, an undercover cop who can’t hold onto his gun, add an extra layer of ennui.

River of Grass screened at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival. Sundance Institute, Oscilloscope FIlms, and the UCLA Film & Television Archive collaborated to create new preservation elements and produced a digitally remastered DCP for this screening.

— Barbra Bannon

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]