8 April 2002 | Eric-1226
Watched it again... liked it even better!
The Sci-Fi channel screened this movie yet again last Sunday morning, and, since I liked it so much the first time, I watched it again - and was every bit as enthused about it (actually even more so) as I was the first time I watched it. I felt compelled to rethink my previous comments, and decided to kick them up a notch and submit them here.
For starters, I can't get over how utterly beguiling, or perhaps bewitching, this movie is. That was my initial impression, and it still remains after another viewing. Rich with atmosphere, this movie just plants its spurs in you, grabs you by the chaps, and whisks you off to a (slightly twisted) dreamland of a place called the Old West.
In addition to those things that I mentioned in my previous comments, I noticed several other things that thoroughly enchanted me. I loved the background music - sometimes stylized and lilting, sometimes melancholy and haunting, but always very "Old West", and right on the mark. I liked the oddly bemused twangy voice of Bruce Dern, who gives running commentary at various points throughout the movie. I liked the slow-motion running of the wild horses: vaguely symbolic of Heaven knows what, they were just mesmerizing. And I liked the attention given to minute details, like the sets of spurs and other paraphernalia hanging from the Bounty Man's dilapidated horse-drawn cart.
Last but not least (and perhaps that which I like MOST about this movie) is the persona of Helen Hunt. I'll say it right up front: she plays a character who is basically a tippling saloon whore - dying of consumption, no less. But... she comes across as so alluring and bewitching, so surreal yet so tangible, that I had to do several double takes. Her character in the movie, tragic beyond words, is so... well, let's just say her image quite literally haunted me and remained with me for weeks after viewing the movie the first time.
After the first viewing I thought the three stories that essentially comprise the movie were somewhat sparse and underdeveloped. But upon second viewing, I realized that they were perfectly played out. Just like the Old West itself, they were minimally set up, sparse on details, yet rich with hardscrabble verisimilitude and parable. Kind of reminds me of O. Henry short stories...
I won't say the movie is totally flawless. There are a few (but only a few) parts where "made for TV" production values glaringly show through. The part where Alma (Muriel Hemingway) is fending off the ravenous wolves at the window is one example that comes to mind. But these flaws are minimal compared to the overall satisfaction that I derived from this movie.
Finally, let me make clear to all who would listen: I'm putting forth these comments NOT because I want to hear myself blow a bunch of happy hot air, but because I really want the creators of this movie to know that their efforts in making this haven't gone by unappreciated. (In other words, I'd like to see more movies of this calibre).
I certainly can't guarantee that everyone will like this movie or see it my way... a thousand other people might see this movie and not even remotely agree with my reaction to it. Be that as it may, for those who really want a movie rich in Old West atmosphere and with hauntingly memorable characters, then this movie is one I highly recommend.