Gus Van Sant's dreamtime riff on Shakespeare's "Henry IV, Parts I and II" features River Phoenix as Mike Waters, a narcoleptic male hustler who is first seen drifting on a stretch of highway in Idaho. Mike shifts from Seattle to Portland, where he has taken up with Scott Favor (Keanu Reeves), who is also a hustler. The difference between them is Mike's sleepy state betrays an uncertain future, while Scott is ready to inherit a fortune from his father within a week. Mike feels a real affection for Scott, but Scott does not believe men can really love each other. Besides, Scott is mostly hustling as a means of slumming and killing time before he inherits his money. Mike, however, delusionally thinks Scott will continue with his life as a drifter after receiving his inheritance. Mike's belief is shared by the dregs of Portland, who live out of an abandoned hotel with their spiritual leader Bob (film director William Richert). They're convinced Scott's fortune will benefit them all, when in reality Scott has other plans.
by Paul Brenner synopsis