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  • RiverPhoenix_Fan25 July 2005
    This movie is amusing, touching AND captivating the whole way through. River Phoenix' performance, from his excellent singing voice to his southern accent, made me believe he was an up and coming country western singer. Phoenix becomes the insecure yet arrogant James Wright and I believe he played this character perfectly even with the obvious personal struggles in his life. River and Samantha Mathis have palpable chemistry that makes you believe James and Miranda can save their difficult relationship. All the actors in this film did a good job and the story line is enjoyable and unique. There is not one wasted moment of screen time as every scene is filled with continuity and story-driven dialogue.
  • I rented this movie last summer after having never even heard of it, I just picked it up because it had River Phoenix in it and he was, of course, quite the hottie :) Anyway, I've never been into country music but I LOVED this film! It deals with that whole scene and has great songs in it-- especially the one that Samantha Mathis' character writes and sings at the end. Plus the movie has one of Sandra Bullock's early performances, which is great. And yes, River also does his part to make the film very watchable! If you haven't watched The Thing Called Love, go pick it up-- you'll be pleasantly surprised.
  • Not really a story about generation x, although the cast is young and as fresh as it can be for 1992 / 1993. This is the story about youth, music and growing up an Elvis fan. More than that, it is a story about friendship and young love. Kind of like an Elvis movie, without the bad country music. Samantha Mathis gives one of her better performances here as the young girl from NYC who wants to be the next country singer out of Memphis. Much like the rocky career of the later (great) River Phoenix, Samantha Mathis has disappeared. Although she is not dead, like some people, Samantha Mathis fell off the radar screen to be in a number of independent films. Here, she is fun to look at and even more, she is one of the reasons why this movie is still good. Even if you don't like country music, this is worth watching.
  • Thanks to Peter (Bogdonovich) for participating in this project/getting the movie re-released. Admittedly, it's not for everyone, but then, even the director admits it in his interview. In fact, he points out it's rather become a "cult classic" and I agree. So truthfully, I tell those who might view these commentaries, that we seem to separate into two camps: those who enjoy the entertainment value, and those who do not.

    The film was not made to create any particular lessons, change your point of view about anything, in fact, it wasn't even written in such a way that any of the "players" were gonna become famous for their roles. Nevertheless, the film creates some interesting characters, characters whom all but the coldest-hearts-would certainly pull for as the movie unfolds. Also, the actors do an amiable job of creating endearment as they evolve a bit from beginning to end. Beyond that, there is also a terrific soundtrack of country music for those who love the genre, including three versions of "Blame It On Your Heart".

    I sadly look over my shoulder to the memory of River Phoenix and may now be reminded of what a talent he truly could have developed into. And again viewing the movie, I found myself more forgiving to the original headlines of how/who may have brought about his demise. Each character in this movie brought something with them that still makes me a fan. Yes, I give the movie a "7", but, as with Samantha's little song near the end of the movie, this feature is on my wall of favorite dvds to stay!. I do hope others will join me in enjoying it's return to our screens. RLjr
  • pdlp26 February 1999
    Though I have never been in love with country music or movies, I like this one, it´s funny and entertaining. I consider that River was a big actor for a small role, but anyway I liked it. My frustration though was when I bought the CD, and the music was completely different from the ones on the movie, not telling that ,my favorite two songs which are the last song (performed by Samantha) and other by River are not only different versions from the movie ones but they are not part of the soundtrack!. I like Samantha, Sandra and River so, I had a good time watching it.
  • 1993's "That Thing Called Love" failed miserably at the box office but it's a pretty solid drama about 20-somethings trying to make it in the country music business in Nashville, where the film was shot. The story revolves around Miranda Presley (Samantha Mathis), fresh from New York City; Connecticut cowboy Kyle (Dermot Mulroney); ditzy but genuine Southern belle Linda Lue (Sandra Bullock); and the bursting-with-creative-energy-and-confidence James Wright (River Phoenix).

    A few country stars have cameos, like Trisha Yearwood and Pam Tillis.

    The film isn't redneck-y at all; the people are genuine and likable, if sometimes annoying. The movie has a hip flair and is filled with newer country music (for 1993, that is). Aside from trying to make it in the music business the story naturally revolves around Kyle and James' attraction to Miranda and their ensuing rivalry. The cool thing is that the film never cops a meanspirited vibe, despite one brawl; the viewer gets the impression that these are good, talented people who will remain friends no matter what.

    What makes the film truly worthwhile is the magnetic performance of River Phoenix, who was 22 years-old during filming. His face looks almost exactly like Quorthon of Bathory, if you're familiar with that obscure metal band. River easily exudes the brooding charisma of Marlon Brando, no kidding. Unfortunately, three and a half months after the release of "That Thing Called Love" River was found dead outside an L.A. nightclub due to an overdose. He was 23.

    FINAL WORD: "That Thing Called Love" may not be a great country music film like "Coal Miner's Daughter" but it's pretty solid and highlighted by the brooding charisma of River Phoenix. He was great and it's a pity he died so prematurely.

    GRADE: B
  • Not being a legitimate lover of romantic movies, THE THING CALLED LOVE did offer some pleasurable good times. Here's a real surprise treat, a movie about the love and lifestyles of the Music City world with a bright young cast, including Sandra Bullock in her impressive character as "Linda Lue". The long-late River Phoenix deserves some special attention in his guitar & singing numbers and his interaction with Samantha Mathis, a role that is among the best remembered. I'll admit the songs aren't half bad, but a few are just forgettable. The best part worth watching is Trisha Yearwood's car break-in, and even the real T. Y. makes a brief cameo! Enjoyably entertaining in a good ol' boy & girl spectacle, but for two hours, the experience tends to run too long. A pretty good movie, but I'll pass. Perfect for the leather & boots crowd.
  • Aspiring songwriter Miranda Presley (Samantha Mathis) takes the bus from NYC to Nashville. She arrives too late for an audition along with James Wright (River Phoenix). One week later, they make it to the audition as well as Kyle Davidson (Dermot Mulroney) and Linda Lue Linden (Sandra Bullock). Only James make it but the foursome start a friendship and more.

    This Peter Bogdanovich film has four great young stars. In fact, River's star dims about a month after this movie's release. This seems to be set up to be a great movie. Although I like Mathis, Phoenix is probably the more compelling actor. It would be even crazier if Bullock got the Miranda Presley role. The stories are a bit soapy. The songs are fine. It's just great to see Phoenix before his early death and an up-and-coming Bullock. Otherwise, it doesn't standout more than that.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I watched this movie late one night when there was nothing else on the TV, opening was quite good but from the minute Samantha Mathis's character met the whole gang i was fighting with the character over her choices, i know that river phoenix is a god in a lot of peoples eyes but his character was so unbelievable, the reasons the scriptwriters gave for why he didn't call her were ludicrous, the only character to end up alone was the only one that deserved to be with someone and Samantha Mathis was a bad choice of country singer, along with river and his "long" hair, i felt this movie was outdone by the songs in it, seemed like a showcase for country music, and if all they had done was sat and sing the songs from start to finish i would have been much happier.
  • This movie is very good, it is straight and honest and true on human feelings as is miles away from the stereotyped musical comedies. Watching it is just a breath of fresh air.

    The music is very good, the acting ranges form good to excellent, and director Bogdanovich displays real class touch in some scenes. Bogdanovich is very good at directing young actors, as it was very clear since his "Last Picture Show" movie of the early 70s.

    The actors: Phoenix doesn't do much real acting but his presence has something magnetic to it and it's a real shame that he passed away, he would have become one of the greatest actors of today. Mathis is fresh, unmannered and straight, a real girl not a stereotype. At last! You can't say she's beautiful or sexy but man she has presence and personality, you can't but fall in love with her. Bullock plays the ingenue and she does it very well, even in this early movie she displays the acting qualities she became much appreciated for afterwards.

    It is a real shame that "The Thing Called Love" hasn't been released on DVD yet. Paramount announced an October 26th, 2004 release which didn't happen. This must be a cruel joke as it's years that we are waiting for this release. Paramount executives, if you read this, please deliver this movie on DVD. I am sure that you won't regret it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is a review of the Director's Cut version.

    Under the direction of Bogdanovich, this stellar cast shines through a sometimes murky script. Bogdanovich achieved this by being brave enough to film some scenes in long takes of two shots, giving us the full attention on the acting without having to distract us with edits to close ups and so on. This even allowed the actors enough space for some small beautiful moments of what seemed to be improvisation. And if it wasn't, then the scriptwriter, Carol Heikkinen, did an amazing job in capturing the quirkiness of these characters.

    I couldn't keep my eyes of Phoenix playing the part of a self centered music artist who didn't know how to use his heart of gold in case it was hurt. His mannerisms remind me of Johnny Depp's style of acting. It is so pure and honest, and fun to watch.

    Samantha Mathis pulled it off as the leading lady, but she had great supporting acts in the shape of the then amazing Sandra Bullock and the upcoming talents of Dermont Mulroney.

    Some may argue that the director's cut may be too long and boring, but this cut definitely captures the world these characters have entered by spending more time in observing the dream they are chasing, and how that dream can sometimes run you down.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "The Thing Called Love" was an average movie for me, but would probably be better appreciated by understanding fans of the country music genre, as the story here coincides which much of the soul in that variety of music (or at least it did before everything went pop). There may also be plenty of musical performances to enjoy, some performed well by the actors.

    Samantha Mathis, plays Miranda Presley ("no relation") a rather ambitious, bold young woman (a character for which she always seems most comfortable) who, oddly enough, is a New York native who travels to Nashville to try a career in country music. There, she meets three others who are on the same path, but all eventually lead in different directions.

    Though Mathis and River Phoenix (who portrays James, a sometimes hotheaded local country music success and, eventually, Mathis' on-again off-again love interest) are the primary focus of the film, the secondary character do play a significant role in the story. Sandra Bullock plays the shy (but soon, more independent) Linda Lue Linden who arrived in Nashville with the intentions of being a country singer (just like everyone else they meet in the small town), but soon has other aspirations. And Durmot Mulroney plays Kyle, who appears to make a better songwriter than a singer, and constantly vies with James for Miranda's attention.

    I would rate this movie simply as average because of the lack of development of some of the characters, despite their involvement in the story, as well as the lack of a solid resolution at the end. Although the whole cast gives great performances, however (check out Anthony Clark as Bullock's boyfriend, Billy), the story is lacking in some genuine finesse somewhere. As said before, country music fans might find more to appreciate about the situation and characters.
  • Director Peter Bogdanovich, still trying to get his career back on its feet, served up this fairly entertaining look at newcomers struggling to make it in the country music industry in Nashville. Despite the presence of talented actors Samantha Mathis, Sandra Bullock and Dermot Mulroney in the leads, this laid a colossal egg at the box office. The blame may be the high expectations for River Phoenix, who seemed to sleepwalk through much of his role. There was one scene where he was sitting at a bar and you might as well have been looking right through him for all the presence he displayed; for some reason I was reminded uncomfortably of Jan-Michael Vincent.
  • Hoolihan24 February 1999
    This film is not up to much, the script seems to just drift off somewhere else after about half way thru, Mathis however is well pleasing, and the braindead Mulroney is really quite good too. The film has a few nice moments i liked, but the whole thing seems compromised by the below par script. The total disinterest of the lead male is a problem too, Phoenix is about as charming in this as a three week old pizza, not forgetting Sandra Bullock who gets the chance to show off the full range of her acting repertoire (4 facial expressions)

    And it was overlong. And I can't even remember how it ended.

    You might like it if you like garth brooks though!
  • xbernard22 September 2007
    They were several reasons why I wanted to see this movie: 1. it's about Nasvhille & country music of which I'm a fan 2. it stars River Phoenix, an actor of great skills 3.

    This one of River's last movies, if not the last before his tragic death and he does indeed look sick in this movie, skinny and all. And it's a disappointing ending for his career as this movie is really too shallow on its subject.

    Samantha Mathis comes to Nashville seeking stardom as a country music singer. She wants to start with the Bluebird Café, a renowned place where aspiring singers go apply for castings, and if they're good enough, they get to come back in the evening for a gig. There she meets with River Phoenix, Sandra Bullock and Dermot Mulroney, all with the same ambition, becoming the next country star. River is the most successful of them (it has to be noted they all sang their parts).

    If this movie's intention was to show how it goes in the music business, it missed. If it wanted to show a love story, it missed too because it only scraps the surface of the subjects.

    If you want country music and a depiction on how Nashville works, check out Altman's "Nashville".
  • bday5519 October 2006
    Man, not even the lure of good looking babes and music could save this flea-ridden dog. Its my 4th sitting and I still can't get thru it. If I paid to see it in a theater I'd want my money back. The blonde in this movie is making me contemplate a new gay lifestyle. Gad, I wouldn't marry her if Donald Trumps life depended on it. Please bypass this cinematic fertilizer and go read the Daily News or The NY Post. I can't find anything redeeming about this flick. I want my money back from Blockbuster. Why do I need 10 lines to post this? Sandra Bullock has this bad fake southern accent that never quite makes it. I'm still wondering what this movie is about.
  • When i first saw this movie i just watched it because i like River Phoenix. It is not one of River's best but its a good one. Once i saw it i thought it was really good because of the music. I'm not a big country fan but i like the music they put in this movie. The whole love triangle was a good plot. Sandra Bullock made it have some funny parts. It's very cute and very enjoyable. I would recommend it to female especially because it is a chick flick mostly. Whoever is a Elvis fan must go out and see this movie too. Even though it doesn't revolve around Elvis he has an important part in it. I love the movie go out and see it.
  • This is one of the most surprisingly bad movies I've ever seen. To think that the same man that directed The Last Picture Show also did this makes one wonder. I just rented the Director's Cut and deeply regret the spent time and money. Interestingly enough Sandra Bullock and Dermot Mulroney are the only remotely positive aspects of the entire film. Way too much praise has been given to River Phoenix for this role. I'll be the first to say that River Phoenix was an incredibly terrific actor in some films, but this film does not qualify. The supposed chemistry between Mathis and Phoenix is shockingly forced and unrealistic. The film is generally boring and meanders pointlessly for an excruciating 2 hours. I should mention that I was born and raised in Nashville and while the film isn't necasarily offensive in it's idea of what the city is like, it is obscenely unrealistic and a bit stereotypical (to clarify; the line-dancing party the characters attend, I don't think they really exist.
  • jellopuke23 September 2018
    A very well made and true to life romantic comedy with realistic situations and characters and catchy songs. The story is bittersweet and without easy answers yet still satisfying. Criminally underrated piece of Bogdanovich's career.
  • One of River Phoenix's last film roles was as part of a quartet of performer/songwriters looking to get a break in country music in Nashville. The rest of the quartet in The Thing Called Love is Samantha Mathis, Sandra Bullock, and Dermpt Mulroney. The whole thing kind of reminds me a little bit of Stage Door in the hopes and dreams and the camaraderie shared among the hopefuls.

    In the two hour running time of the film there are almost 20 musical numbers, so many the plot almost gets in the way. When the quartet isn't singing, they're acting out the usual angst romantic and professional that are common to the young. And several country stars do some musical bits here, chiefly Tricia Yearwood who sings her hit, She's In Love With The Boy.

    Tricia also figures into the plot when Mulroney and Mathis break into Yearwood's car in order to leave a cassette tape of Mulroney's latest song. It sounds like something out of I Love Lucy and it all works out in the Lucy manner with Yearwood being a good sport about it. In real life, those two would have been in court with Yearwood taking a restraining order out.

    The plot is pedestrian, but the music is nice, especially if you are a country and western fan.
  • The two leads are completely miscast in this film, but it is still enjoyable. Having grown up in Tennessee, some of the time in Nashville, I am a bit irritated by the clichés. Although I never visited the Blue Bird, I did haunt a pub across the street, so the territory is familiar. The Drake Motel, as well as the diner, are geographically somewhere else in the city. (Not that it matters, but a bus traveling from Nashville to NYC would never pass by the Blue Bird.) Mathis and Phoenix are overshadowed by Bullock and Mulroney in almost every scene, and even the minor role of Billy is more authentic. KT Oslin is quite adequate in her role.

    Once, I had the pleasure of hearing Bogdanovich speak, and it was wonderful. Frankly, I'm a bit surprised that his coverage of the Nashville scene is this superficial.
  • I originally sought out this movie strictly because of River Phoenix's presence in it. Strange to say, he is the least of the reasons to like it. Sadly, he seems both out of place, and out in space. Too bad, because I think he is the weak link in what might have been a much better movie, had he been in any condition to lend his considerable talents to the proceedings. Still, I find this movie strangely enjoyable. Mathis, Mulroney, and Bullock are all incredibly appealing, as are the music and surroundings. And even though River's performance seems oddly hollow, you can't deny the chemistry between him and Mathis, nor take your eyes off of River when he's on the screen.
  • This is a poorly conceived film. River Phoenix's final performance earns this film an extra star. Its quite sad that River was clearly a heroin addict while making this film. Many regard River as infallible, this is typical of how we remember those who passed at such a young age. Lets be honest, River performance here is not good.

    Reading through these reviews, its clear that all the positive reviews are from Country music fans, as well as defenders of Country music. Objectively, its a pretty bad film. American film goers spoke loud and clear on this matter. Thing Called Love was one of the biggest box office flops of the 1990s.
  • I'm not a country western music fan at all, but I am a huge fan of director Peter Bogdanovich. My affection for Bogdanovich extends beyond his work as a filmmaker, going back to his is days as a writer in the 1960s when he took the time to interview Hollywood directors such as John Ford, Howard Hawks, or Allan Dwan; filmmakers who were nearing the end of their prolific careers and considered talented journeymen filmmakers suited to producing mere entertainment. Bogdanovich helped bring legitimacy to these filmmakers as artists and as having a unique point of view. What I love about Bogdanovich as a filmmaker is that he brings a classic Hollywood sensibility to his films. His approach to filmmaking is clearly influenced by his love of classic film and by his conversations with all of these talented early pioneers of cinema. To "The Thing Called Love" in particular, it tells the story of a group of country music musicians, River Phoenix, Samantha Mathis, Dermot Mulroney, and Sandra Bullock, hoping to get their big break in Nashville. A bit of a love triangle occurs between lead characters, Mathis, Phoenix, and Mulroney, in a way that echo's many films of Howard Hawks, which Bogdanovich is quick to pick-up on. More than the story or the performances (which are good all around), I think I like most how Bogdanovich frames his shots. He shoots his film in a way that looks like old Hollywood. I don't know if the film would look all that different to the casual viewer, but he frames his shots in a way that you could see Hedy Lamar or Cary Grant being shot, which is terrific fun for cinephiles. Overall, as a tale of young folks trying to make it big and learning life lessons that eventually inform their songs and make them better musicians, it's a entertaining enough of a film, even if it falters at times, but watching the film as a heir to old Hollywood, "The Thing Called Love" is a is a real treat.
  • I've enjoyed watching this movie ever since I discovered it in about 2007, years later than its release. The actors and music have much charm, and somehow it works despite a confusion as to whose story is being told. For a long time now, I've wanted to re-write the ending, to make it more consistent with the characters as they are presented... More recently, I realized I'd like to go back to the drawing board and write it as it should have been written, given the star billing of River Phoenix, his charisma and the power of his music. It ought to be his story from start to finish, the boy who listened to cheating songs in his father's truck... It can't be re-made with those actors, and it remains a poignant record of what River Phoenix could do, and what he might have done. The other main actors, Samantha Mathis, Dermot Mulroney, and Sandra Bullock are always interesting to watch, as are all the supporting cast, and in particular, K.T. Oslin as Lucy. I recommend this movie as a wonderful trip down memory lane and a tug-at-the-heart glimpse of the most promising young talent.
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