Of the six movies Robert Redford has directed to date, A River Runs Through It is his second best, following behind the searing, unforgettable Ordinary People. A specialist in bringing books to life as movies, Redford has a knack for finding what matters in the text and making sure it ends up on screen.

That's vital here because Norman Maclean, on whose novella-length memoir the film is based, was a writer of exceptional grace and economy. This is a simple story that must be told the way he wrote it, and Redford delivers, even using excerpts as the narration he reads. Smart move, Bob.

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