The Thing Called Love showcases River Phoenix before his untimely death. This sadly was his last movie! Even if you’re not a fan of country music, you’ll enjoy this one! As K.T. Oslin aptly says, “Country tells it like it is”.
Miranda Presley “no relation” (Samantha Mathis) is a New Yorker trying to make a break as a song writer in
Nashville. It’s at the Bluebird Café, where weekly competitions are held for songwriters, that Miranda meets the cool aspiring song-writer James Wright (
Phoenix). While Miranda is looking for a place to stay, a fellow song writer at the Bluebird, Linda Lue Linden (Sandra Bullock), offers her a bed in her motel room. It isn’t long before Miranda, James, Linda Lue and Kyle Davidson (Dermot Mulroney) song writer and friend to James, go off on an ‘excursion’. When Kyle falls off a horse and lands up in hospital, Miranda and James find themselves on the roof shouting “Look out music city ‘coz I’m here now and I ain’t never leaving”. These words are crucial to the story as we watch Miranda have sleepless nights, spending them in a diner writing music. As with many aspiring musicians, she is exposed to rejection however she perseveres.
In real life
Phoenix and Mathis was a couple. In this movie they actually marry and move in together. Marriage though is somewhat trivialized here and we see Miranda tear up their marriage certificate chanting “I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you”. The sanctity of marriage is not the issue in this movie, it’s about four friends trying to find themselves.
Mulroney of “My Best Friend’s Wedding” fame is besotted with Miranda resulting in somewhat of a love-triangle and Bullock, as Miranda’s best friend, is simply delightful in her role as songwriter-cum-beauty queen.
In my opinion, the strength of this movie is the music. We get to hear
Phoenix’s impressive voice on numerous occasions which compensates for his acting. I was impressed by
Phoenix when I first saw “Stand by Me” and he bowled me over in “My Own Private Idaho”. However, the drugs were definitely taking its toll and it’s evident in this, his last movie. Regardless, his ‘country’ singing enveloped me.
Ladies, listen out for Miranda’s ‘winning’ tune “Makes me think maybe God’s a woman too”.