DIRECTOR: Kelly Reichardt
CAST: Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood, Will Patton
It’s a right difficult thing, mounting the production of a Western. Sure, the form itself has fallen out of favor due to niche interest. But less interested, too, are the people who would put up the money for location shoots, equine management, period costuming, and the building of numerous prairie schooners. Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff is a triumph for all of these reasons, and more so, since it was mounted on an independent film budget. As it follows its group of settlers across the rugged Pacific Northwest landscape of the 1840s, led (and eventually led astray) by gruff mountain man Stephen Meek (Bruce Greenwood), Meek’s Cutoff explores interpersonal dynamics, the clash of gender roles and ethnocentrism, and the hollow favor of Manifest Destiny as a philosophy for survival in a harsh, unforgiving, resource-scarce environment. Meek’s Cutoff is an engrossing, immersive film that also features a powerful performance from Michelle Williams as a frontier woman who ultimately makes the moves required to keep the whole frontier operation she’s involved with on the living side of the world.
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