Twenty years ago today, director Curtis Hanson and star Meryl Streep hit theaters with an action/adventure story set on a white-water rafting trip. The River Wild was pure potboiler, and it opened to decent reviews and decent box-office. It received Golden Globe nominations (for Streep and Kevin Bacon) but nothing at the Oscars. It may well have settled into history as a middling picture on Streep's road back to Oscar dominance (she'd be back in the Best Actress lineup the next year for The Bridges of Madison County) and Hanson's rise up the directors' ranks (he was still a few years from breaking big with L.A. Confidential), if not for one thing: it's a GREAT movie, as any of its myriad showings on cable TV will tell you.
On this, its 20th anniversary, we went and dug up the vacation journal of Streep's character, Gail, a mother and expert rafting guide who was faced with a crumbling marriage and a trio of armed robbers on her family vacation. Here are some excerpts, along with the scans directly from her journal.
THURSDAY, MAY 5, ‘94
Went rowing for the first time this week and watched the sunrise. Boston can be a breathtakingly beautiful city from this angle, especially when mine is the only floating body in the river. Tom came home late and informed us that he won’t be able to make Roarke’s birthday trip. This makes year three. I’m beginning to think he doesn’t care about us at all, and I made that clear as I slammed the bathroom door after our argument. It was an expert slam - not loud enough to scare the kids, but loud enough for him to get it. I stayed in the bathroom until I heard him take a pillow and quilt downstairs to the living room, and then I watched Seinfeld alone. George knocked women and children out of the way while escaping a small fire. He’s a monster, but I find him oddly charming. Oafish and irresponsible but a man of action in a way Tom will never be.