Thursday, 30 June 2011

Meek's Cutoff

(Glory White) Shirley Henderson ,(Millie Gately) Zoe Kazan and Emily Tetherow (Michelle Williams)
wait for their husbands to decide the course of action
I have been wanting to see the Kelly Reichardt Western Meek's Cutoff for an absolute age, and just managed to squeeze in an afternoon's showing of it at Theatre Clwyd yesterday.
I was so glad that I did,, for it is a slow burn of a movie which draws the audience in at the oh-so-slow pace of a wagon being drawn across the Oregon desert in 1845.
For the majority of the movie the story of the ponderous yet tense trek of three families who have put their trust in a mountain man who has stated he knows a quick way to the promised land of the West, is centred around the visually claustrophobic views of the esentially lost characters.
As the inside view of the covered wagon canopys  obscure the prairie view, the camera shots mirror the blinkered views from under the women's bonnetts and as the characters struggle with the terrible hardships of fatigue,low morale,hunger and doubt, for the most part in near silence, the audience is witness to a dreadfully tense and austere tale which is so different to the more garralous and traditional Westerns we have all become accostomed to.
Despite the sparse verbal interaction between the characters, the performances in Meek's Cutoff are exemplary
Michelle Williams is especially good as the strong willed and self contained
 Mrs Tetheroe,who alone challenges their guide's assertion that he knows the 
right way to go.

Through some subtle physical acting rather than any speeches, she perfectly portrays
the grim determination and acceptance of her role as a women that her character
is forced to possess.
Will Patton underplays her husband, the measured Solomon Tetheroe ,with skill and 
Scottish actress Shirley Henderson is a real stand out as the devout and nervous 
Glory White.

Like I said, for some the slow, almost unbearable pace of the is movie will put some 
off it,but for me, the long interchanging tableau's of  lost, tired settlers crossing
the faceless prairie was a stunning cinematic experience.


  1. John, I've just returned from a slow and unbearably paced car journey to and from town! AGGHHHH!

    This Theatre Clwyd sounds like a great place with some quirky movies showing. Do you have the place to yourself when you go?

  2. Sounds like reality!

  3. sounds great!
    I wonder if it will hi the cinemas in Oz.

    Might have to get it on DVD

  4. no chris
    there is uusally a few sad fuckers like me that go along!

  5. I remember the review and it pretty much supported your opinion that in spite of not much going on, it was bloody gorgeous to look at and that somehow made up for the rest. High country Oregon if I recall, which I can verify is stunningly beautiful.

  6. LOL! That last comment of yours gave me a good laugh.
    I am glad you enjoyed your movie. I watched one last night that was a complete waste of my time:
    Jack Goes Boating.
    Don't be fooled by the synopsis. It's nowhere near as good as it is written up to be.
    Ugh! (And why the H didn't I just get up and turn it off????)

  7. Sometimes I will watch a movie, just for the wonderful views! I soon forget the story line, but never the beauty of the panoramic views! I may as well be some enjoyment out of that big screen, right?

  8. You certainly get around John!

  9. A movie like that has to be seen in a cinema to appreciate it. Shirley Henderson is an amazing actress - so quirky and so versatile. She's one of my favourites.

  10. I can think of worse ways of spending a afternoon. Did they get there in the end - I hope they did?

  11. Looks like little house on the prairie. I have never heard of this movie on this side of the pond. Course who am I that live in the boonies atop the hollars with no theater. Well Jeb sometimes sets up his tv outside....

  12. I was one of those put off by the pace.....watching paint drying came to mind.

  13. Always love your movie reviews John, but his time I have to agree with Peter. Half way in all I could think about was; "Will this damn movie never end?" and "I just dropped ten bucks and threw away two hours of my life for this?" LOL. Sorry.


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