Thomas T. Foose
[The River] is a wonderful film of great visual beauty.
The River is not a documentary. It does not deal with India's social conditions. It is not a large-scale, dynamic film like Renoir's The Grand Illusion. It is, instead, lyrical: a delicate idyll of the few months in which an adolescent English girl, living in India, passes from childhood and begins to be adult. This was the theme of Rumer Godden's novel. This is the theme of the film. India, in both, is colorful background.
But how hauntingly colorful! India's natural coloring and her beautiful ceremonials, are practically painted with the camera, in sequences that could not have been better composed by Jean Renoir's father. Indian melodies on the sound-track reenforce the visual lovelinesses. (p. 43)
The script maintains the Indian and British aspects of the story in an even balance. But the glimpses of India are so beautiful that the Indian aspects dominate one's memories. (p. 44)
The River is the kind of motion picture that proves the movies are an art. (p. 46)
Thomas T. Foose, "Film Reviews: 'The River'," in Films in Review (copyright © 1951, copyright renewed © 1979, by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, Inc.), Vol. II, No. 8, October, 1951, pp. 43-6.