Most negative reviews here grumble about the movie's slowness, which is fair. Yet, despite its lack of event, this nostalgic recollection through one man's memories is a beautiful cinematograph of experience and family values.
At the very least, you'll remember its stunning landscapes for a long time, particularly the powerful and majestic "Blackfoot River" captured immaculately by the same cinematographer as Dangerous Liaisons. Montana must be a pretty state!
Robert Redford's voiceover narration in his silken voice is calm, allowing the poetry of Norman Maclean's written words to carry the emotion: "Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it."
What piqued my attention was its subtheme of the passion for a pursuit -- fly fishing in this case, which is an intrigue to me in itself. As the fishing lines flick and whisk over the whispering river, a low sun sheening the tree-lined horizon, the rhythm of image embraces imagination and meditation. We are close to understanding what Norman means when he says he is "haunted by waters".
By the time the film comes to its lyrically elegiac end, it has touched your heart and made you think. That is perhaps a good reason in and of itself to watch the movie. Personally, I'd even recommend getting the DVD, it's one you'll watch with kids or people who matter to you.