News & Reviews
Part of what makes The Same River Twice great is its highly selective
and shaped methods of portraying the individuals, almost as if they
were fictional creations. The way in which the present gradually overtakes
the past in this film is more evidence of Moss's flawless sense of narrative
"A piercingly poignant then-and-now portrait...so
palpable it puts a lump in your throat."
"Other documentaries have crisscrossed between time frames, but Moss' beguiling "The Same River Twice" represents one of the most effective uses of the device. To begin with, "Riverdogs" is the stuff of time capsules. Here are 17 people in their 20s, old enough to have felt the impact of the Vietnam War, who have formed a group knitted closely enough to dispense with clothing for much of the time and enjoy a summer idyll. Danny, a vibrant, 48-year-old Santa Fe, N.M., aerobics instructor, looks back fondly at the experience as "the complete package: fun, sex, companionship, music, beauty."
It is Barry [now the director of a psychiatric
hospital in Placerville, Calif.], however, who provides "The Same
River Twice" with its arc and its meaning.... Like the others,
he looks back on that extraordinary summer but sees it as part of a
continually unfolding life that for him has been rich and challenging.
In considering his youth, current middle age and coming old age, Barry
suggests that we remember that "we all get just one turn at each."
"Graceful... Fluid and Loose ... The Same
River Twice will exert the same alluring pull as Michael Apted's 7-Up
and other where-are-they-now investigations into the passage of real
"***! Insightful. Profound. Succeeds through
"Witty and beautifully constructed, it
is inexorably affecting even beyond
"****! An intimate, heartfelt exploration
of the gap between the freedom, idealism and insecurity of youth, and
the responsibilities and realities of middle age."
"***1/2! Magical. A poignant meditation
on life as a work in progress."
"Although full of lithe young naked bodies
cavorting in their '70s prime, the real attraction to this poignant,
elegiac then-and-now boomer documentary may be the Colorado River."
"Sharp, witty, and compassionate."
"Extraordinarily affecting! A subtle, beautiful
film that has strong narrative drive as well as visual elegance. All
life is here."
"Achieves a beguiling intimacy...the Colorado
River's striking natural beauty, creating an organic and timeless backdrop
to this poignant study of the sharp twists and turns our lives can take."
"Poignant simplicity. A pleasure to watch."
"Beguiling, lyrical portrait of idealism
"A deft, humane slice of American life."
"Transcendent…the connection Moss makes
with his audience is not just about chances lost or bucolic memories.
It's about how people change or don't - how they miss the changes they
might have made, for reasons well-meant or not. And how, sometimes,
they know what it is they want to make them happy at a time when most
are still splashing around, tout nude, in the happy pool of possibility
and promise. What "River" is about is memory as embrace, not
just for those who were there, but for those who weren’t."
"Has the built-in curiosity value of watching
real people evolve on camera -- a fascination increased by subjects'
commitment to countercultural ideals. Subjects are engaging and articulate.
In Moss' lovely old 16 mm color footage, their naked forms against spectacular
landscapes have an effect more neo-classically aesthetic than titillating."
"Mr. Moss, then a river guide and now a
Harvard film professor, makes "The Same River Twice" a tone
poem on the answers that were never discovered by the idealistic kids
he had filmed years before and the new questions chasing them down."
"An enlightening, intimate look at the
ever-changing nature of human relationships."
"A bittersweet and elegiac documentary.
Combines old footage of a whitewater expedition, (director Moss and
his Berkeley friends took), often in the nude, in 1977 with contemporary
interviews highlighting what they have become. A telling, compelling
meditation on the way age and experience, and intimations of mortality,
influence our attitudes to our bodies and our sense of free-spiritedness."
"Lyrically nostalgic…a lighter look at
the free spirit of the time."
"Sustains a mood of tender ruefulness…which
still resonates long after I’ve lost track of which (Sundance) movies
starred Patricia Clarkson."
"A sagacious, mature work. Wry, ironic,
pragmatic...and it’s certainly not a Big Chill tale. Lawrence
Kasdan’s film serves up lie-on-your-ass, screw-the-stupid-’60s defeatism.
The Same River Twice, defiantly antiBig Chill, is optimistically
pro 1960s and 1970s and pro social activism. Kasdan’s movie has the
good score; Moss’s people have the good core".
"Naked hippies! Nnnnoooooooo! Hey, but
these hippies are into white water rafting. Extreme hippies. It’s a
no-brainer that this film will appeal to the middle-aged crowd who indulged
in the ‘60s and '70s proper. But even for a youngun like myself, I found
the film thoroughly entertaining and was even laughing out-loud along
with the rest of the audience. Congratulations to Robb Moss for making
such a crowd-pleaser."
"Robb Moss' amazing film is as heartbreaking
as it is that rarest of beasts, a genuinely life-affirming piece that
relies on the peculiarities of the human animal rather than false piety
or tones of moral superiority. The Same River Twice is as organic as
its title implies, contemplating a short 16mm film taken the summer
of 1978 of a group of hippies ... engaged in a communal trip down the
middle of the Grand Canyon and comparing it to the rafters as they are
today, embroiled in the mendacity and the muted joys of the day-to-day.
Melancholy and nostalgic, the picture has moments that are as poignant
and heartfelt as any in any film this year."
"The film's subjects are what make The
Same River Twice most engaging -- they are warm, reflective, down-to-earth
people who defy every stereotype of the hippie-turned-establishment
sellout. They still, in small and simple ways, live outside the workaday
"A fascinating, intimate documentary that
dispels the myth that the generation that tuned in, turned on and dropped
out - later sold out. Navigating life's bumps like those on the rivers
they used to ride down, these baby boomers are still questioning life's
"A tender and moving look at some of the
essential questions about living a life: How do we make our choices,
and what do we regret? Are we where we thought we'd be? How does aging
affect us? And, perhaps most pointedly, can we integrate the person
we used to be with the person we are now?"
"An engrossing film on many levels, from
the undeniable aural/visual tug of river rapids and canyon walls (plus
the tanned, naked bodies of the "riverdogs") to the careful
storytelling and deft characterizations of Moss’s present-day subjects."
"This nostalgic and insightful take on
the past and friendship was one of the better documentaries of the (AFI)
festival. It is about the reflections of five people recalling a river
trip taken in their 20s in the Grand Canyon 25 years ago. Sounds boring,
right? It's not. Filmmaker Robb Moss combines footage taken during the
river trip and cross-cuts it with footage of their lives today, along
with interviews. Although the premise is rather simple, it is a thoroughly
engrossing film about memory, counter-culture, the beauty and appreciation
of the outdoors, nudity, aging, and lifestyle changes."
"Moss's cinematic time line is drawn with
the kind of candidness and honesty that only intimate knowledge allows.
This is "direct cinema" that transports you back in time as
it showcases a generation that took its value-changing youth seriously.
Despite growing up and having to adjust to societal norms, they are
clearly still "under the influence" of a river that flows
through their lives."
"The Big Chill, documentary style"
"A- . This is personal filmmaking at its
most intimate and lasting."
"Sweet, sensitive and insightful...Everything
Moss shows us is worth noting; ... if capturing life as it's lived is
one of documentary's nobler missions, this one carries us pleasantly
along to that rewarding destination."