Edge captures the world of mid-eighties kids as well as any John Hughes
film, but the world these kids inhabit is entirely different. It’s the
flipside, or better still, the underbelly of the John Hughes’ 80s.
A group of high-school friends learns that one of their own has murdered
his girlfriend. The murderer, Samson (known as John, played by Daniel
Roebuck) shows them Jamie’s
nude body, which he has left at the river’s
edge. You’d think their world would be turned upside down by this,
right? But it’s not. And that’s what’s so powerful about the film.
Matt (Keanu Reeves) and Clarissa (Ione Skye Leitch), are upset that their
friend is dead. They’re bothered by the fact that she’s naked and alone.
But they’re also concerned about John. Jaime can’t be helped now, so
shouldn’t they try and protect John?
Matt and Clarissa’s ponderings are not urgent by any means. More cerebral,
really, like they are observing all this from a distance instead of
living it. The two also have a friendship with Layne, played by Crispin
Glover. Layne, already pretty odd, is coming completely unhinged by this
situation. He is almost out of his head—as only Crispin Glover can
be—trying to hold the group together and keep John out of trouble.
to this is John’s friendship with the only truly present adult in the
film. Parents are in and out and mostly yell, leaving Feck the most
visible adult in their lives. Feck is a paranoid loner whose only
companion is his blow-up sex doll. (And this being the 80s, I hardly
need to tell you that Feck is played, to creepy perfection, by Dennis
Matt and Clarissa aren’t bad kids. They aren’t even confused kids, really.
They are numb. They’re suburbanites without much to do or look forward
to. Nothing in their lives is particularly real or urgent, even a friend
who’s dead and another friend who’s a murderer. Ione Skye Leitch’s
Clarissa, with her long hair, luminous skin, and oversized plaid shirts,
is the perfect poster-child for the 80s angst that Nirvana nailed. As
she walks through the park at dawn after passionless sex with Matt, she
fairly reeks of teen spirit.
Will Jamie’s body be found by anyone who cares enough to move it from the
river’s edge to the morgue? Will John be turned in? And if so, which of
the kids will do it?
all this plays out, keep your eye on Matt’s little brother, Tim (Joshua
John Miller). If you find the older characters’ attitudes chilling,
Tim’s will make you downright cold. He’s fully aware of what’s going on
with his older brother’s group of friends, and his reaction is
Following around on his bike since he’s too young to drive, Tim is the
angry generation that’s set to come of age after Matt and Clarissa’s. He
narrows his eyes in fury and says things like, “Get your nunchucks and
your dad's car. I know where we can get a gun” while trying to involve
himself with John, Feck, and Layne—a dangerous trio if ever there was
one. Tim is the perfect post-script on this film—a message that if you
think the high-school crowd’s disaffection is just an anomaly, the
preteens around the corner will prove that they’re even worse. What a
way to enter the 90s.
PS -- River’s Edge is based on an actual event. Just something
more to think about.
| River's Edge Soundtrack
• Lethal Tendencies - Hallows Eve
• Die by the Sword - Slayer
• Kyrie Eleison - Fates Warning
• Captor of Sin - Slayer
• Evil Has No Boundaries - Slayer
• Fire in the Rain - Agent Orange
• Tormenter - Slayer
• Let Me Know - Wipers
• Happy Day - Burning Spear