My Own Private Idaho (1991)
Wherever, whatever. Have a nice day.
|Distinguishing Feature:||A narcoleptic friend named Mike|
|What He Taught Us:||It's when you start doing things for free, that you start to grow wings.|
Scott's a recalcitrant rich kid, rebellious for the sake of rebelling, quietly manipulating others for his own selfish ends, betraying their trust and then leaving.
Rich boy who goes slumming, Scott is ambitious and willing to sacrifice those around him to get ahead in whatever world he finds himself. Though he leaves his family, he has no intention of losing his inheritance or his family's political clout. He uses the promise of this inheritance to gain Bob's trust, which gives him prestige in Bob's world.
Bob's world, however, is less promising for an ambitious man than politics. By the time we meet Scott, he is almost of age, bored with Bob, and ready to return to his family. Before he does so, he decides to have one last adventure: he will help Mike find his long-lost mother. Mike is an ideal companion: Scott likes Mike as much as he is capable of liking anyone, and on some level he does want to help Mike find his mom. I think that the campfire scene and Mike's confession of love shock Scott but don't change his mind. Ultimately, whatever he feels for Mike is immaterial. He is determined to leave Mike's world and enter another, and he has no intention of taking Mike with him into that world.
By the end of the film, Scott has betrayed almost every person in the film other than his Italian girl friend. He ditches Mike in a hotel room in Italy, with plane tickets to the States. This is probably the nicest thing he will ever do for people like Mike. His response to reading about his dad's death is to smile. He betrays Bob, lying to his family about his past at the same time. I think of Scott as Van Sant's idea of a young politician: politicians can't be heroic. They are unreliable betrayers of public trust.
While only Scott knows what is going on inside his head, I believe he has a good heart. If he acts differently from his family, friends, or audience's expectations ... it is because he does not feel any need to have their approval. He dislikes being defined and authorized. Scott wants control over his own life. Watching carefully throughout the film, I see Scott always takes care of Mike, tries to be honest and sincere to him. He loves his best friend, even if not in a romantic sense. Scott might also be this "unidentified guy" who pulled over his car and picked up the poor and fainted Mike by the end of the story. To be honest, I learn from Scott more than from other characters in My Own Private Idaho.