16 September 2003 | rosscinema
Old fashioned western with heart
Why studios don't make more westerns is beyond me. Some of them are downright unwatchable like "Young Guns" and its sequel but there have been some extremely well made films like "Unforgiven" and "Tombstone" so I'm at a loss as to why more are not made. Thank you Kevin Costner! This story is about four men who are herding their cattle through a certain area and they stop near a town to get supplies. The crew is headed by Boss Spearman (Robert Duvall) and his second in charge is Charley Waite (Costner). They send Mose (Abraham Benrubi) to get supplies and after a day or so he doesn't return. Boss and Charley go to find him leaving Button (Diego Luna) to watch the herd. In town they find Mose beaten badly and locked up in the local jail. A rich rancher named Denton Baxter (Michael Gambon) hates "Freegrazers" and tells them to take their man and keep moving. Baxter controls the sheriff (James Russo) and also has many thugs on his payroll. Back at the herd some of Baxters men have been following them so Boss has an idea of going after them instead of running. That night they confront them and smash their rifles but when they get back Mose has been killed and Button is wounded badly. They take him to the local doctor and meet his sister Sue (Annette Bening) and Charley takes a shine. Boss and Charley don't like to be told where to graze their cattle and they want revenge for the death of Mose. A final gunfight in town is inevitable and Charley reveals that he killed many men in the war. This film was directed by Costner and its very well made. He seems to have found his mark as a directer with this genre. Costner allows the story to unfold on its own terms and the pacing is deliberate which is welcomed after watching so many Hollywood films and their quick edits. The film should be seen on the big screen to be appreciated. The scenery is beautiful and their are so many shots with skylines and mountains and wide open prairies and these shots help tell the story in the film. The scenery is important and gives the film a look that helps you relate to the characters when they speak of not wanting to be told where they can go. The characters are well written and they let out things about themselves little by little as the story is told. Duvall's character is a man of high pride and also a stubborn side and he's not afraid to stand up for himself even if it means he might die. Costner plays a man with a hard past and he seems to be living his life and coming to grips with his experiences in the war at the same time. Charley states that he doesn't have a problem with killing and we believe him. The romance between Costner and Bening seems forced and Bening looks a little to old to be a woman that never married. The film goes on about 15 minutes to long and Costner has not one, but two goodbye scenes with Bening. This is a minor complaint because this is a very entertaining film and after a summer of watching hyper-kinetic Hollywood junk, It's a movie that is very welcomed. Hear that Hollywood?