Life is a struggle for Tom Garvey (Mel Gibson): His family house resides in a valley with The River that keeps on flooding violently, drowning the fields, destroying the property and making the day to day life a living hell for Garvey’s family and his livestock. Soon all the debts for the broken equipment and spoiled crop pile up to the point where bank no longer grants an additional loan to him.
At the same time a local businessman – Joe Wade (Scott Glenn) – wants to build a dam that’d offer work to hundreds of locals who have ended up bankrupt and homeless, but flood the whole valley with Garvey’s homestead and so Wade is willing to buy out Garvey. But Tom is a hard headed man and his head won’t be turned even if it will kill him.
It has to be said that camera loves young Mel Gibson and his charming presence adds an extra notch to every scene he is in. Very disappointingly the movie leaves his character very distant to the viewer, and we never see the actual softening and opening up that the dialogue implies.
In the end the family avoids yet another close call with the flood. It’s a very unsatisfying triumph that leaves the story pretty much where it began; the river will keep on flooding, life keeps on being hard and Wade will keep on paying low price for the crop.
Maybe moving out wasn’t such a bad idea after all.