Box art for A River Runs Through It

A River Runs Through It


Academy Award®-winner Robert Redford (Best Director, Ordinary People, 1980) captures the majesty ofthe Montana wilderness and the strength of the American family in this acclaimed adaptation of Norman Maclean's classic memoir.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

ON for kids age 13
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Positive messages
3 out of 5
Positive role models
2 out of 5

Beautifully filmed movie about family has mature themes.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that A River Runs Through It is a 1993 Robert Redford-directed movie based on a story by Norman Maclean. Given that it's a movie set in Missoula, Mont., in the early decades of the 20th century, characters often are shown drinking whiskey and smoking cigarettes. Also, a Native American woman is referred to as an "Injun," and a character makes reference to "colored jazz." Early in the movie, two boys are shown dancing in a silly manner in front of several prostitutes lounging around behind a building. There are some fistfights -- characters are shown bloodied and bruised during and after the fights. In one scene, a character visiting from California drinks whiskey all night and well into the day and brings a prostitute with him on a fishing trip. They both pass out face down in the woods, buttocks exposed. The man is later shown trying to walk, unclothed and also with buttocks exposed, after getting a terrible sunburn.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about adaptations of stories into movies. What do you see as being the challenges in adaptation?
  • How was the culture of Missoula, Mont., in the early 20th century conveyed in the film?
  • This film focuses on two brothers who are opposites in many respects. How were these "opposite" qualities revealed as the film progressed? What are some other examples of movies in which two main characters are "opposites" of each other?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: Here are two things I never thought I'd say: I like a movie about fly fishing, and Robert Redford has directed one of the most ambitious, accomplished films of the year.

- Caryn James, New York Times, Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Fresh: A great movie to watch with the family at Christmas.

- Cole Smithey,, Thursday, June 24, 2010


- David Ansen, Newsweek, Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Audience Reviews

5 stars

I can't see whats not to like about this film. Sure, we've seen it a million times but "A River Runs Through It" works like no other. The beatiful direction and visual of Montana in the early 1900's is done wonderfully. The acting, in my own opinon, was very well-done. Once again I am surprised to say that another movie starring Brad Pitt has entered the list of my favorite films. I've never really noticed it before, but about 75 percent of my favorite movies star Pitt. But, does that make him my favorite actor? I'm quite unsure. I mean, "Fight Club" is my third most favorite film out there. "Se7en", I believe is number six. "Sleepers" is at number ten altough I may push it up to the late teens]. "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" is up there and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and "Burn After Reading" are in there too. I believe theres more that aren't coming to mind. Brad Pitt is just one fine actor. I've never noticed before how many of his movies were favorites of mine. Well, in this movie he plays Paul, the younger brother of Norman. Paul is the younger brother of Norman. Paul is the brother who likes to live life like no tommorow. He the type of character who isn't afraid to die. Hes a character who just doesn't give a fuck what people think. There is one scene in this movie where Paul brings an Asian girl into a bar where she is not allowed----takes place during WW1]. Paul is the cool character. Brad Pitt does one great job in the supporting role. The movie pretty much just tells the tale of two close brothers whose lives change over the course of time. The movie has beatiful shots of rivers as the characters in the movie fly-fish. To me, I loved this movie. Some find it boring, but me, no. I found this to be a beatifully told tale of the true story of the two Maclean brothers. Great acting, great direction, great visual photography. Thats enough for me to give this movie a solid five stars.

- Screeny, Sunday, July 18, 2010

3 stars

It was a mildly interesting movie that had about one decent performance. Brad Pitt made a great effort and seemed to be the only one that tried. Other than that, it has no personality or proper direction. I feel that if the script was a bit better then it would've been more interesting.

- ythelastman89, Wednesday, November 25, 2009

3 stars

Brad Pitt pretty much plays the same exact character in every movie. And in just about every movie he is "the wild spirit who goes out with a bang", and such follows suit in this film. Still, it is very likable.

- puffchunk, Sunday, February 8, 2009