Watch This: River Phoenix’s final performance elevates this earnest ode to country music

Every day, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by the week’s new releases or premieres. This week: With the Paul Walker-led Furious 7 still doing gangbusters business, we look back at other final films from actors who died too young.

The Thing Called Love (1993)

Taken at face value, Peter Bogdanovich’s The Thing Called Love is a collection of hokey clichés. The story, formulaic as they come, concerns a New York City girl named Miranda Presley (Samantha Mathis) who ditches the Big Apple for Nashville, where her dreams of being a country music star are complicated by her romance with spotlight-bound rogue James Wright (River Phoenix) and her friendship with aw-shucks songwriter Kyle Davidson (Dermot Mulroney). Equal parts coming-of-age saga and love triangle, it’s a compendium of goofy high jinks and colorful supporting characters, the latter led by Sandra Bullock as Miranda’s boisterous best friend Linda …

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