The River was an unbelievable histrionic stretch for thespian Melvin Gibson. His complex portrayal of a struggling taciturn farmer required him to be absolutely expressionless, monotone, monosyllabic (lots of grunting) and emotionally flat throughout the entire movie -- and, by golly, he pulled it off like a real trouper. The essence of Melvin's performance in The River was this: He was acting as though he was NOT ACTING. He was, in fact, pretending to be that egregiously bland actor whose name I can't even remember (who starred with J. Lo in The Wedding Planner, Connor McMathews or something like that) and deliver a complete non-performance -- it was Oscar-quality, genius-level non-acting. Die-hard fans will recognize and applaud his relentless, painful efforts to similarly not do any acting in all of his subsequent films, but the fact is, Melvin Gibson's non-acting performance pinnacle was, quite simply, The River.