Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Meek's Cutoff - DVD Review


Starring Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood, Will Patton, Zoe Kazan, Paul Dano, Shirley Henderson and Rod Rondeaux. 
Directed by Kelly Reichardt.

This has all the trappings of a critically-praised low-budget indie, and I'm as big a fan of low-budget indies as the next guy. Good acting, beautiful cinematography, a stripped-down story. This does a very good job of conveying what it must feel like to be part of a pioneer wagon train in 1845. Tedious and repetitive, with long stretches where nothing happens.

The movie is from the viewpoint of the female characters. If only the men are talking, we can only hear as much as the closest woman can. They're all following their guide Stephen Meek, who claims to know a shortcut to Oregon, but it becomes quickly apparent he has no idea where they are.

This movie most reminded me of Gus Van Sant's Gerry, which was about two guys who get lost in the desert, and nothing really happens. I hated that movie. This one at least has more people.

Director Kelly Reichardt also worked with Michelle Williams on the equally minimalist Wendy & Lucy.  That movie conveyed the despair of being poor in a rich country and made me feel for its heroine. We never get close enough to anyone here to care.

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