River of Grass has all the elements of a conventional road movie: a car, a gun, criminal plans, and young lovers on the run from an angry father who also happens to be a suspended police officer. But writer and director Kelly Reichardt has instead taken these familiar elements and fashioned an anti-road movie, a deadpan film that is more existentialist comedy than crime drama. The young lovers in question are Cozy, the cop’s daughter, and Lee Ray, a shady character from the wrong end of town.
Lee Ray comes into possession of a pistol, and soon he and Cozy find themselves unintentionally involved in a shooting. Fearing capture by the law, the two make plans to leave town, committing a series of robberies on the way. However, they don’t manage to get very far; indeed, the film’s central premise is how the romantic myth of lovers on the lam proves disappointing in the face of a far more pedestrian reality.