The Same River Twice

Robb Moss. | 78 minutes. Next Life Films.


A real-life Big Chill, this rich documentary juxtaposes two sets of footage that director Robb Moss shot of his five closest friends. The film begins with grainy 1970s images of the hippie pals enjoying a monthlong rafting trip down the Colorado — all in their birthday suits. It then skips ahead a quarter of a century, as Moss’ camera finds the former free spirits on the same river — now fully clothed — dealing ambivalently with kids, careers, and mortgages.

Though the film captures the clash between conviction and convenience, Moss’ friends are hardly the Motown-fetishizing sellouts of The Big Chill. Two have been mayors, one is a talk-show host, another an aerobics instructor, and one, the hippie holdout, has remained a river guide all these years. As for Moss, when he’s not exploring what has survived of the counterculture, he teaches filmmaking at Harvard.

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