Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
USA, 2010. Evenstar Films, Film Science, Harmony Productions, Primitive Nerd. Screenplay by Jonathan Raymond. Cinematography by Christopher Blauvert. Produced by Elizabeth Cuthrell, Neil Kopp, Anish Savjani, David Urrutia. Music by Jeff Grace. Production Design by David Doernberg. Costume Design by Victoria Farrell. Film Editing by Kelly Reichardt. Gotham Awards 2011. Independent Spirit Awards 2010. Toronto International Film Festival 2010. Venice Film Festival Awards 2010.
Kelly Reichardt abandons the modern simple realism of Wendy and Lucy and plunges into the past for a fascinating, austere western about early settlers surviving the harsh Midwestern terrain. Three couples being lead across Oregon find themselves at the very edge of their own survival when their guide (Bruce Greenwood) gets them lost and has them wandering the landscape. Disoriented, terrified and running out of water, the group do their best to withstand the pressures of their environment while also trying to keep their spirits up and not lose all faith in their guide; not that Reichardt ever lets anything play itself out so obviously. Like most of her work, there is a lot of moody quietness, but here it is absorbing and poetic, with superbly gorgeous photography that takes the best of John Ford westerns and applies the style to a much grittier, more believable recreation of the wild, wild west. Reichardt has concocted an almost mythic vision in her demythologizing of the American past, and makes fascinating viewing out of the simplest situations. Cast members all turn in terrific performances.