Okay, so here’s the background: A little over a year ago, director George Sluizer announced that he was going to finish River Phoenix‘s final film “Dark Blood,” by re-cutting the footage and using voiceover to patch up narrative gaps. The Phoenix family washed their hands of the effort, releasing a statement that they would not be participating in the venture, but Sluzier pushed on. Overcoming some legal hurdles, and finding a way to finish the movie that only had 11 days left to shoot when Phoenix died, he crossed the finish line and at the Dutch Film Festival last fall, premiered the completed work. And now, it’s coming to the United States.
The Miami International Film Festival announced they will be hosting the North American premiere of the movie. The film tells the story of a young, widowed man who lives on a remote nuclear testing site, who takes in a jet-set couple (Judy Davis and Jonathan Pryce) when their car breaks down, and begins a troubled relationship with the former. Here’s the full synopsis:
Jet-set Hollywood couple Harry (Jonathan Pryce) and Buffy (Judy Davis) travel through the desert on a second honeymoon, trying to save their marriage. Their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere leaving them to find shelter in Boy’s (River Phoenix) beaten down shack, unaware they will become his prisoners. Boy’s wife died of leukemia after nuclear tests occurred in the desert leaving him alone and far away from society. Buffy is seduced by Boy’s honesty and vulnerabilities, while Harry represents everything Boy hates about the civilized world and its culture. Buffy decides to sleep with Boy to buy the couple’s freedom, but these circumstances will push Harry to the edge, leading to a terrible tragedy.
No matter what you might think about Sluzier finishing the movie, it certainly wasn’t something that was decided on a whim. Sluzier saved the footage from being burned in 1999, and it was only a decade later when he decided to try and complete it, spurred by his health issues. “[The] fact is, I suddenly became ill about 4 years ago — an aneurysm — and was told my years could be limited,” Sluizer said in video posted to a crowfunding campaign for the project. “So I wanted to finish the movie now. It came as an urgency to me, but I also knew there was still good film material.”
So, we’ll soon see the results. No word yet on if there will be theatrical release of some kind, but perhaps keep your eyes peeled on festival circuit for now. The Miami International Film Festival runs from March 1-10.