Loyalty to the Clique in River’s Edge

River’s Edge (1986)
Dir. Tim Hunter
Starring Keanu Reeves (Matt), Crispin Glover (Layne), Ione Skye (Clarissa), Daniel Roebuck (Samson/”John”), Dennis Hopper (Feck)

Thursday’s movie was the Tim Hunter film “River’s Edge”, inspired by a true story, about a teenager nicknamed John who kills his 14 year old girlfriend Jamie and leaves her body by the river in his hometown. He brags to his friends at school that he murdered Jamie, but none of them believe him, so he leads them to the river to show them the body. Though most of his friends are shocked by John’s actions, none of them go to the authorities. Only his friend Layne seems truly concerned, not because of the death of Jamie (formerly a member of their clique), but because John will be arrested and sent to jail should the police find out. Layne feebly tries to help John by rolling the body into the river and arranging for John to hide out with the local drug-dealing recluse Feck.

“River’s Edge” is a study of teen apathy and of the sense of loyalty that teens feel towards their peers. The characters are generally unconcerned with John’s actions and while some, such as Clarissa, are bothered by the murder, they are not so disturbed as to alert the authorities. In this article on the real-life events that inspired the film, the author speculates that the murderer’s (John, or in the real-life case, Anthony Jacques Broussard) friends didn’t act because they would be seen as “violators of a code of teen-age loyalty that, in combination with a fear of police blame, kept the others silent.”
This idea of loyalty to one’s clique, even in the face of death and the threat of legal reprecussions, has been hinted at the films we have already seen in the course like “Heathers” (wherein loyalty to the clique is a top priority, even if the protagonist, Veronica, doesn’t see it that way) and “The Faculty” (wherein the protagonists must remain loyal to eachother in the face of death and legal reprecussion even though they are not from the same clique), and particularly in “Jawbreaker”, of which we have only seen clips. This “clique loyalty” was also mentioned in our most recent reading for the course from the World Health Organization’s “World Report on Violence and Health”, available here.

"The things I do for my fucking friends!"

"The things I do for my fucking friends!"

“River’s Edge” also contains another example of the subverted rebel archetype that I described in my previous post. John is portrayed as the dangerous rebel, the only one in his group of friends, the others of whom are portrayed as misunderstood misfits of the traditional rebel archetype instead.

For further reading on the actual murder case that inspired the film, including a few reviews on the film, I recommend this site.


~ by sosayeththewatcher on May 24, 2009.

One Response to “Loyalty to the Clique in River’s Edge”

  1. In my top 5 favorite movies of all time. Check my blogs for one called “foodeater”.

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