Screening at Edinburgh International Film Festival 23rd and 25th June and coming to DVD and Download 18th July, River is a thrilling chase that sees the beautiful setting of Laos transform into a sinister trap once an American volunteer doctor becomes embroiled in murder. Tense, gripping and fueled by paranoia, River keeps you guessing with a story as twisting as the Mekong River itself. How far would you go to help someone in need? And how far would you go to escape the law?
Director, Jamie M. Dagg – who won Best First Feature Film for River at the Canadian Screen Awards – does a tremendous job of not only keeping you glued to John’s plight and flight, but also making Laos the second character in the film. The country is by turns idyllic and menacing as it helps and hinders John’s escape. In this respect, the film is an extraordinary two-hander between Laos and John, played brilliantly by Rossif Sutherland – son of Donald and half-brother of Kiefer. Sutherland is utterly convincing as an American alien trapped in a hostile foreign land; a man drawing closer and closer to the edge as he teeters over a huge moral dilemma.
This moral dilemma adds an extra dimension to River as the audience is not only left fearing for John and willing him on, but also questioning what their own actions would be. We love the way the film keeps you guessing exactly what John will do right up until the very last moment.
After refusing to obey a senior surgeon, John Lake (Rossif Sutherland), an American volunteer doctor in Laos, is instructed to take a leave of absence. To regroup, he travels to a remote island in the south of Laos. The solace of the island is shattered when John intervenes in the sexual assault of a young Laotian woman and events spiral out of control, leaving John on the run from the law. What follows is a harrowing journey through the Laotian interior that will test and transform John in profound ways.