***/**** Image C- Sound C+
starring Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Rubin, Alan Boyce, Pamela Gidley
screenplay by Jarre Fees and Alice Liddle and Larry Ketron
directed by Marisa Silver
by Walter Chaw Before Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure trapped Keanu Reeves in an amber of his own inexplicable sun-baked imbecility, he appeared in a couple of genuinely good films, nursing the mistaken impression that he was actually acting. One of these pictures is Tim Hunter's elegy to ennui River's Edge; the other is Marisa Silver's curiously affecting teenage-suicide melodrama Permanent Record. In both, Reeves demonstrates a now-unsurprising affinity for the soulful burnout character, a moral compass in the morass of the amorality of Eighties introspection and hedonism. A neo-hippie destined to become Neo for real, Reeves brought to his early work a kind of befuddled earnestness that informs his best performances (in My Own Private Idaho for instance, or even the first Matrix)--a quality causing genuine concern for "Hellblazer" fans, who probably deserve a more complex Constantine. Prior to mega-stardom, however, the most enduring image of Reeves is a scummy sleeping bag tryst in River's Edge, and his awkward take on drunkenness via Ray Bolger during the climax of Permanent Record.