Since Dazza recently gave his opinion of the movie, and taking advantage of the fact that the film was finally released this weekend in my country, I will dare to give my humble opinion about the film 🙂
The truth is that it is easy to criticize this film: it has a slow pace, almost no action in ninety percent of the movie, and the story is nothing new (the umpteenth western siege, where the protagonists expect the arrival of the ” bad guys “to massacre them) ….
… But nevertheless, it has entertained me. It is not a perfect film, far from it. The story lacks verve, and numerous production problems are noticed, especially in the inclusion of some flashbacks … and the lack of thrust villain (embodied however with conviction by Ewan McGregor). Clearly they had to wring the brain so that the absence is not noticed (the actor could not join the shooting until the very end of it); although Gavin O’Connor takes some pretty good decisions to hide this fact (his appearances in flashbacks are quite good, and the fact resolve the final siege from the point of view of Jane, Dan and Bill, inside the house it is very smart … but unfortunately that does lose showmanship to the scene.
Actually, this movie is an intimate drama, wrapped in the makings of a western. A drama about loss, the value of the strength and the courage to stand up to adversity. Jane’s character is a woman dragged by the events of her life, who has the chance to finally stand up and face everything to protect her family. A woman who believed losing the man she loves, found another honest man who had the courage to protect her, and that after years of false comfort, is doomed to face the demons of her past …. all with the help of the man who loved, lost and broken by war, and finally will have the opportunity to redeem himself next to her.
The actors are the best of this movie: Natalie is really struggling in her role, Ewan is very effective as villain, but the one that really stands out is a tremendous Joel Edgerton, in a role that comes fits like a glove. I’ve never had a high regard for this actor, but I must admit that here is really great.
As for the pace, actually this is a slow film, but is not boring at all. The scenography is irregular, but this is more a problem of script that direction; O’Connor actually does a good job in that regard (and that, given the abruptness of their entry into production, is really admirable). There are very powerful scenes and it’s filmed with style; I’m thinking right now at the entrance of Noah Emmerich to the brothel, or flashback where Joel Edgerton discover the new life of Jane with Bill (which looks splendidly, with the invaluable help of Mandy Walker):
Cinematically, the film is very reliable: the photograph, as I said, is excellent. It collects perfectly light and colors of dusty locations of Santa Fe, and builds a pretty cool frames in scope, making the movie seem bigger than their small budget might have allowed.
In short, a proper film and above all, unpretentious. Conventional, yes, but entertaining, where the only thing really out of tone is an unnecessary happy ending, (although the dessert consistent with the journey of the two main characters).
It’s a great movie? No. It is bad? Not at all, but seeing the hell of the production, it’s a miracle that the result is so worthy. A movie that certainly does not deserve the failure at the box office has had in the countries where it has released. Every week, there are films much worse than hits the box office, but after the bad press that the film dragged, perhaps this was the only possible end of the film trip … and it’s a shame, because here was very good elements to have gotten a most estimable western…