Directed by Peter Horton Produced by Eric Eisner Written by Robert Kuhn Starring Brad Renfro, Joseph Mazzello, Diana Scarwid, Annabella Sciorra
This is the first Western drama I watched when I was a kid that showed me how fun it is to have a childhood adventure with your best friend but at the same time it touched my childish heart with its poignant plot.
I think it’s a great movie because I really enjoyed it and I could easily relate to the two lead characters: a hard-edged, misfit Erik and Dexter, an eleven years old boy who got AIDS from blood transfusion. The way these kids deal with the horrible disease and then embark on an adventure to find the cure – is natural and uplifting.
After growing up and watch it again, I’ve noticed some things that intensify my love for this movie, which I didn’t fully understand then. It taught me, in the most simple and sincere way, about the danger of AIDS and the importance of supports to the patients. I love how Erik stand up for his next-door-ailing- best-friend against the bullies and his alcoholic and abusive mother. And Dexter beautifully portrays a terminally-ill kid who is just too young to understand his situation and decides to just live with it.
The acting of Brad Renfro and Joseph Mazzello, who play Erik and Dexter respectively, is impeccable. The relationship between the two boys are solid, like they were meant to complete each other. Erik is a rebel and outdoorsy, which he got from his distant and storming mother. On the contrary, Dexter is smart and witty boy whose sweet relationship with his mom fascinates Erik. He sticks to Dexter and his mother’s imperfect but happy life, regardless rejections from surroundings.
The most memorable scene from this movie is what I called ‘the shoe metaphor’. On one night in the middle of their naive-but-brave adventure, Dexter tells Erik about his fear of death and nothingness.
Dexter: Suppose you kept going another 18 billion light years, what if there’s nothing out there? Suppose you kept going another trillion times further, so far out you see nothing. The light from the universe would be fainter than the faintest star. Infinitely cold. Infinitely dark. Sometimes if I wake up and it’s dark, I get really scared, like I’m out there and I’m never coming back.
Erik: Here, hold onto this when you sleep. And if you wake up and you’re scared, you’ll say, “Wait a minute. I’m holding Eric’s shoe. Why the hell would I be holding some smelly basketball shoe a trillion light years from the universe? I must be here on earth, safe in my sleeping bag, and Eric must be close by.”
And the smelly shoe, continues to bring tears off of my eyes in the end of the movie, when Erik puts the shoe to Dexter’s hand in his coffin, – then releases Dexter’s black funeral shoe to the river. This is very saddening because the boys start their adventure from the river with a raft made of used tire. The adventure that will always continue and bonds them forever.
Lastly, this movie is the first movie that taught me the art of letting go. No matter how much we love someone, we need to be able to let go and move on. And we gotta keep holding on their beautiful memories so they will live forever in our hearts – and in heaven.
Image sources: here