Meek’s Cutoff (2010)

KELLY REICHARDT

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.5

USA, 2010, , , .  Screenplay by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by Kelly Reichardt.  Gotham Awards 2011Independent Spirit Awards 2010Toronto International Film Festival 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 () 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.

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