Somebody, and dang me for not remembering who, once wrote a review of "River's Edge" which observed that Crispin Glover was the only member of the cast who seemed to realize he was in a comedy. I wish the name of this insightful critic had stuck in my mind as long as that observation because the more time that passes, the more I realize just how right on the person responsible for that insight really was.
Compare such brilliantly intuitive understanding of comedy to the observations included in a piece about Keanu Reeves, another actor in "River's Edge" by some guy named Joe Queenan. After first informing us that-and I am not making this up-Keanu Reeves "has done better work in better pictures than most of his better known peers." Yes, yes, I realize that at this point nothing that Mr. Queenan has to say can be taken seriously. But let's give him enough rope to hang himself when he cravenly invokes the writing of other critics to cast a questionable light upon Glover's performance in "River's Edge" by suggesting, without offering evidence, that it the very definition of "over the top."
What Mr. Queenan and the others who actually considered Keanu Reeves to provide the most interesting performance in "River's Edge" need to understand-and something that my phantom writer did manage to grasp-is that while the rest of the young actors in this film were portraying sincerity in a melodramatic fashion, Crispin Glover can now be looked upon as surfing atop the tsunami of irony that has come to be the foundation of American cinematic character.
We might be tempted to castigate Crispin Glover for this since his magnificently comedic tone poem of a performance has erupted into the guiding light of drama as well as comedy. If you are looking for sincerity anywhere in American film, grab a light and prepare to do some heavy-duty emotional spelunking. The whole point of the matter is that Glover was holding firmly onto the comedic impetus of irony whereas today irony no longer is considered a laughing matter. To place it firmly within the quotidian vernacular of the day: pink is the new black and irony is the new sincerity.
If you are having trouble understanding what I'm talking about, watch "River's Edge" and take special notice of the darkly humorous performance of Crispin Glover that sizzles off the griddle of painfully understated melodrama being emoted by the young cast members around him. Then watch Robert Downey Jr. indulging in genuinely over the top acting in any number of movies in which he is attempting to present irony as a dramatic exclamation point, but succeeds only in presenting a curious insincerity that audiences consistently confuse with comedic.
For more from Timothy Sexton, who once slipped from a river's edge into the water, check out:
- Arts & Entertainment
- Crispin Glover
- Keanu Reeves