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"We lived in one-room apartments with no bathroom, no heat and sometimes no food. So we'd boil some water and put pepper and salt in it, and that'd be our dinner."
Geraldine Fitzgerald portrays a grandmother who must move in with her recently separated daughter and two grandchildren, (River Phoenix, Christina Maria Hutter), igniting long-buried tensions that erupt in violence, in CIRCLE OF VIOLENCE: A FAMILY DRAMA.
In a departure for River, he chose this script and a small part as Chris Benfield, an empty, shallow character that presented no great challenge to his acting abilities. He was keen to take part in this project however because the script dealt with what he felt was such an important subject - the abuse of the elderly, a problem that is still widespread even today.
River still had problems with some aspects of the script. Several years later he would still recall the movie as the one where he had the worst line of dialogue to deliver in his entire career. "It was something like, 'Mom, why can't we be like most families and get along?' Like most families get along!" he said.
By all accounts, River enjoyed returning to television after working on the movies Explorers and Stand By Me. Circle of Violence: A Family Drama would, however, be River's final appearance in a made-for-TV movie. As soon as production had wrapped on this project, he flew straight out to Belize to begin work on The Mosquito Coast.
For its sensitive portrayal and delicate handling of such a heart-wrenching subject, this movie would win a Wise Owl Award and Honourable Mention in 1987.
In 1996, Tuesday Weld starred as another mother stressed to breaking point - the mother of the character played by River's I Love You To Death and My Own Private Idaho co-star Keanu Reeves in Feeling Minnesota. In addition, River's co-star from Sneakers, Dan Aykroyd, also appears in this movie.
"I do love you Grandma. I just don't want you here. It's not your fault - it's just the way you are. You drive my mother crazy. I don't know her anymore. Yes, I'm afraid of her. I'm afraid of her when she's around you."