Christian BaleCinema at 10.30 on a Sunday Morning! Bliss!
The Prof is away and I indulged myself with a good movie.
I went to see Hostiles and it left me reflective and quiet....a sign of a good movie.
Hostiles is a thoughtful and well crafted Study of 19th Century post traumatic Stress disorder. Set amid the brutal end of the Indian Wars the film explores a whole set of characters ( civilian and military) who all are suffering from varying degrees of the condition. Consequently their stories are not an easy watch and after two hours of what feels like abject misery the viewer is left rather exhausted by it all, but the effort is worth it, believe me as the performance by Christian Bale as Capt Joseph Blocker , a serial Indian Killer who is entrusted with transporting a dying old enemy Chief Yellow Hawk ( Wes Studi) to his Indian burial ground, is worth the price of the cinema ticket
Blocker is near retirement and is reluctant to take the assignment on . He spent a career watching and participating in the horrors of the Indian wars and adheres to the maxim of the only good Indian is a dead Indian with almost religious zeal. But as the politicians in the East want to sanitize their treatment of the native Americans he is forced to face his prejudices by having to co operate with Yellow Hawk and his family on the dangerous Journey from New Mexico to Montana.
Add to the mix a traumatised rancher ( Rosamund Pike) who has just lost her entire family by an Indian raid. A suicidal trooper ( Rory Cochran) , who is depressed by his violent military career and a court marshalled prisoner ( Ben Foster) who murdered an Indian family with an axe and you can see where the narrative was going.
Bale is wonderful as the damaged, complicated and in his own way Honourable soldier who has been brutalised by life. His character seesaws between cruelty at his Indian Charges, loyalty and genuine affection for his men and pitch perfect treatment of the traumatised Rosalie Quaid ( Pike) and his scenes with the granite faced Wes Studi are especially powerful and ultimately incredibly moving.
Unfortunately the Indian characters are less successfully fleshed out with director Scott Cooper sticking to the tried and tested stereotypes of savage killer or Dancing With Wolves nobility. But Studi 's Understated performance complements Bale's nuanced performance well as a mutual respect starts to grow between the two men.
The violence in the movie is pitched just right as it erupts from nowhere in a clumsy confused and totally surprising way typical of a life is cheap time when brutality was everywhere and PTSD was the norm rather than the exception.
Not an easy film to watch but it's worth the effort.