Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Movie Review: The Sisters Brothers (2018)

A chase western, The Sisters Brothers features a character-rich tale of greed, science, shifting alliances, and plenty of killing.

In the American West of the 1850s, brothers Eli and Charlie Sisters (John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix) are assassins-for-hire doing the dirty work for Oregon-based industrialist The Commodore (Rutger Hauer). Brash younger brother Charlie is an expert gunslinger but also frequently drunk. The older Eli is more circumspect.

With the California gold rush in full swing, their next assignment is to catch-up with detective John Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal), who is supposed to find and apprehend prospector Hermann Kermit Warm (Riz Ahmed). Morris does find Warm on the way to California, but they become partners once Morris learns about Warm's chemical discovery. The Sisters brothers now doggedly chase down both men, and more surprises await when the pursuers find the pursued.

An adaptation of the Patrick DeWitt novel, The Sisters Brothers is an often engrossing western with a twisty plot. French Director and co-writer Jacques Audiard draws inspiration from classics like The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre (the greedy pursuit of gold subsuming everything else) and Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid (the endless chase, here flipped twice), and adds spikes of humour and frequent shoot-outs to some visually magnificent landscapes.

The film's strength is drawn from four sharply drawn characters. In this story, the nasty cold-blooded assassins are the central protagonists. Eli and Charlie have a backstory fuelling their relaxed relationship with death, while an uneasy dynamic crackles between the two men. They actually rarely agree on anything, but they also always look after each other and combine their strengths to repeatedly get out of impossible jams.

Meanwhile, Morris is a thoughtful and soulful detective using his diary to chronicle his travels. An expert at finding men but with no interest in killing them, Morris has no difficulty finding Warm and sidling up to him. But the prospector is a shifty character and probably the smartest of the lot. A misfit and penniless chemist seeking a wild west fortune, he is a man with a different plan to get rich quick. And once Morris and the Sisters brothers find out what Warm is up to, all the agendas are shuffled. But greed is an all-consuming monster, tearing alliances apart as easily as they are forged, with the added misery of rapid physical and psychological degeneration.

The characterizations are boosted by interludes of short and sharp action, Audiard finding mixed success in seeking innovative ways to demonstrate the brothers' calculated bravura as they confront numerically superior enemies. Some of the nighttime scenes are brilliantly staged, while others are a muddle of indistinct shadows.

Small details round out The Sisters Brothers, mostly swirling around Eli. A small bug causes an inconvenient sickness; a middling but resilient horse becomes a precious companion; and a scarf from a long-ago liaison carries the symbolism of a life never to be experienced. Heartless gunslingers plagued the west, but they too were once men with hopes, dreams, and scars.

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Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Movie Review: The Command (2018)

A drama about the Kursk submarine disaster, The Command (also known as Kursk and Kursk: The Last Mission) is a well-constructed and multi-faceted recreation of a tragedy at sea.

In 2000, Captain-Lieutenant Mikhail Averin (Matthias Schoenaerts) and his crew mates celebrate a colleague's wedding. They then depart on the submarine Kursk out of Vidyayevo port in Murmansk to participate in Russian Northern Fleet naval exercises in the Barents Sea. The crew members notice one of the torpedoes running hot, but their superiors ignore the warning. The faulty torpedo explodes, triggering a catastrophic secondary explosion of all other munitions. The Kursk sinks.

Mikhail leads a group of 23 survivors who take refuge in a sealed-off compartment. Admiral Andrey Grudzinsky (Peter Simonischek) leads the rescue efforts, but is hampered by inadequate and poorly maintained equipment. Back in Murmansk, Mikhail's pregnant wife Tanya (Léa Seydoux) and other relatives desperately seek information but are stonewalled by navy officials.

Commodore David Russell (Colin Firth) of the British Navy is monitoring the disaster and offers to help, but the Russian bureaucracy represented by Admiral Petrenko (Max von Sydow) refuses foreign assistance. Meanwhile the survivors face cold, wet and cramped conditions, and dwindling oxygen supplies.

Directed by Denmark's Thomas Vinterberg, The Command adapts the book A Time To Die by Robert Moore with grim realism. The Kursk tragedy resulted in 118 deaths, and the film approaches the drama with a clear-eyed objective to trace events and decisions above and below the waves. Once the calamity strikes the mood is almost uniformly grim, and the sense of impending doom only tightens as rescue efforts flounder.

The Robert Rodat screenplay invests plenty of time on-board the stricken vessel as the explosion survivors struggle to stay alive. These scenes explore the limits of human endurance, acts of heroism and camaraderie coming together to solve problems, momentarily raise spirits, and expand the survival window.

But events on the surface are not shortchanged. The perspective of the families is expressed through Tanya's ordeal, the inept response of the bumbling Russian command is painfully exposed, and the British Navy's readiness to assist represents the international community's willingness to set politics aside and attempt to save lives. 

The multiple viewpoints provide relief from on-board claustrophobia, and ensure the two hours of running time never drag. The cameras of cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle capture the cramped and crumbled conditions on the stricken submarine, the grey aesthetic of Tanya's environment, and some impressive flotilla landscapes.

Matthias Schoenaerts leaves an impression as an even-tempered leader maintaining his wits to focus on the immediacy of the crisis. But while The Command salutes individual moments of courage, this is a story about the damage caused by the immense failure of big machinery.

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Sunday, 19 September 2021

Movie Review: Worth (2020)

A drama about the value of life, Worth delves into the crass process of calculating a monetary amount to compensate victims of an atrocity.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, lawyer Kenneth Feinberg (Michael Keaton) is appointed by the White House to negotiate a settlement agreement with the victims' families, in lieu of crippling lawsuits against the airlines. Working with his law partner Camille Biros (Amy Ryan), Kenneth's initial approach is cold-hearted and formula-based.

But the families' emotions are raw, and Charles Wolf (Stanley Tucci), who lost his wife in the attacks, organizes them to oppose and improve the proposed settlement. Kenneth's team members uncover difficult individual situations impossible to fit within a formula, including a gay partner not recognized as family and a firefighter with a complicated domestic life. Meanwhile, lawyer Lee Quinn (Tate Donovan) argues for much higher settlements for families of high-income executives. Gradually, Feinberg starts to understand a different approach will be required.

Based on real events as recounted in Feinberg's book, Worth examines the conflict between the need for an emotions-free legal settlement and the passionate turmoil of families reeling after an inexplicable and catastrophic loss. The plot lacks traditional tension between good and bad, and the blood-sucking lawyer sub-text is avoided when Feinberg accepts his assignment on a pro bono basis. The film faces several other narrative obstacles: an empathy-challenged corporate suit is a poor protagonist choice for a heart-wrenching 9/11 drama, and any substantive discussions about actuarial formulae are more than likely to induce sleep.

To their credit, director Sara Colangelo and writer Max Borenstein navigate around these pitfalls with decent agility. They find refuge in victims' family members telling their stories almost straight to the camera, and Feinberg's team of junior lawyers learning to listen and tugging on their boss to modify his approach.

The performances also help. Michael Keaton invests in Feinberg as a confident but also apathetic lawyer who thinks he has all the answers, only gradually awakening to the enormous human scale and complexity of this particular challenge. If Keaton's Feinberg is the drama's brain, then Stanley Tucci as Wolf is the heart, pumping effort into creating a difficult bridge between the families and the lawyers, and eventually orienting Feinberg towards demonstrated compassion.

Worth is more curious than compelling. It's a corner of the 9/11 tragedy worth exploring, insofar as cinema and the process of hammering out compensation agreements can co-exist.

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Saturday, 18 September 2021

Movie Review: A Letter To Three Wives (1949)

A drama about relationship ups and downs in a leafy small town, A Letter To Three Wives is a spry snapshot of post-war middle class domesticity.

Deborah (Jeanne Crain), Rita (Ann Sothern), and Lora Mae (Linda Darnell) are friends and neighbours, and about to chaperone a community children's picnic. Just before departing for the day, they receive a letter from common acquaintance Addie (voice of Celeste Holm) informing them she has run off with one of their husbands, but not disclosing which one. In separate flashbacks, the women review the state of their marriages.

Emotionally fragile Deborah met husband Brad (Jeffrey Lynn) when they both served in the navy. He is from a wealthy and respected family, while she is from humble origins. Deborah always felt inferior and a misfit with the country club crowd. Brad fuels her insecurities whenever he mentions the vivacious Addie.

Brassy Rita has a successful career as a radio theatre writer, while husband George (Kirk Douglas) is a proud but low-paid school teacher. He looks down upon her commercial brand of writing, and the tension between them rises when Lora Mae nudges him to consider a career change. George knows Addie from college and she is more aligned with his love for the arts.

Confident Lora Mae grew up in a poor household on the wrong side of the tracks. While working at a department store she caught the eye of the wealthy owner Porter Hollingsway (Paul Douglas). He pursues her but she does not yield to his affections until he proposes marriage. They are never truly in love but always honest with each other, including Porter expressing his admiration for Addie.

An adaptation of a story that appeared in Cosmopolitan, A Letter To Three Wives boasts a clever structure, three casually related mini relationship portraits, and a mean streak of humour to punch-up the drama. Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz also wrote the screenplay, and delivers an entertaining summary of first-world problems lurking in the households of the haves and want-to-haves.

Addie provides mischievous narration without making an appearance, instead hovering over the lives of others as a cunning plot device to cut through the facade of marital bliss. The three stories expose a range of women's emotions and intentions, including Deborah's deep-seated self-doubt and desperate desire to fit in, Rita's well-intentioned but misplaced attempt to elevate the earning potential of her husband, and Lora Mae's singular focus on snaring a wealthy man.

The men here are mostly static beings, war-winning objects to be captured, cared for, manipulated, improved and jealously guarded. In turn, the revealed lives of Deborah, Lora Mae and Rita revolve fully around their husbands, and even working woman Rita insists on muddling her career with her marriage.

The performances are lively, Jeanne Crain, Ann Sothern and Linda Darnell quickly creating distinct and memorable personalities. They receive equal screen time and ample opportunities to navigate a range of man-instigated crises. Mankiewicz's writing is human-centred: despite their different backgrounds, it's easy to believe these women are friends. In the supporting cast, Thelma Ritter has a significant but uncredited role as a housekeeper.

Although the ending settles for a relatively quick wrap and lacks zing, A Letter To Three Wives remains a savvy peek into three couples' lives.

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Movie Review: The Killing (1956)

A high-tension heist movie, The Killing counts down the hours towards an audacious robbery from the perspective of the gang members. Attention to detail collides with a strained domestic relationship, yielding exquisite drama.

Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden) was only recently released from prison. He promises his devoted girlfriend Fay (Coleen Gray) that his next heist will be a big one, allowing them to start a new life together: he plans to rob $2 million from the racetrack on the day of a high-stakes race.

Johnny's assembled gang includes veteran con man Marvin (Jay C. Flippen) and two racetrack insiders: cashier George (Elisha Cook Jr.) is desperate to buy nice things for his demanding wife Sherry (Marie Windson), and bartender Mike (Joe Sawyer) needs money to help care for his sick wife. Police officer Randy (Ted DeCorsia) is also involved, and he plans to use his cut to pay-off debts to ruthless mobsters.

Johnny also hires brawler Maurice (wrestler Kola Kwariani) and sharp-shooter Nikki (Tim Carey) to cause distractions on the day of the robbery. The plans appears solid, but Sherry is ambitious, deeply unsatisfied in her marriage, and having an affair. She extracts information from George and provides it to her boyfriend Val (Vince Edwards), jeopardising all of Johnny's plotting.

An adaptation of the book Clean Break by Lionel White, The Killing is written and directed by Stanley Kubrick as a tight and crisp exposition of heist planning. Using documentary-style narration and subtle jumps in time to sharply define the characters and cover their actions leading up to the all-important seventh race at the track, Kubrick weaves a gripping tale of crooks coming together to execute the perfect robbery, except that the criminals themselves are far from perfect.

Cramped sets, stark light sources, dark shadows, sweaty, crumpled close-ups and remarkably fluid camera movements define a visual style coiled with tension and a sense of doom. For all the meticulous planning leading up to the robbery, this group of men is simply too flawed to pull off a heist of this magnitude, and their character weaknesses create an undercurrent of pending calamity. Johnny is going for a much larger haul than any of his previous jobs, now with the understanding that prison is prison so he might as well aim big. Marvin is small time, cashier George is meek and insecure, police officer Randy is dense enough to get into debt with the mob, and bartender Mike is no criminal.

Notwithstanding exceptions like Fay, men like this tend to attract the wrong kind of woman, and sure enough Sherry instigates the rot. George is too stupid to notice that contempt is the only emotion his wife feels for him, and she senses an irresistible opportunity to get rid of him and get rich doing it. As the pathetic George, Elisha Cook Jr. is a doleful presence, emerging from behind his cashier window to create a black hole of creeping ruin.

The 85 minutes of running time are perfectly paced. On several occasions Kubrick stops the clock just as the seventh race is about to start, and rewinds to fill in more preparation details and further increase expectations. By the time the gang swings into action and every man plays his role, all the groundwork appears to pay off, with the added bonus of one racist meeting quick justice. 

But the final act is the anarchy of the universe descending upon Johnny, mundane rules and an agitated small dog having never factored into his planning. The beauty of a plan coming together is only surpassed by the potency of unanticipated randomness.

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Movie Review: Beckett (2021)

A chase thriller, Beckett features plenty of narrow escapes but meager plotting. 

Beckett (John David Washington) and his girlfriend April (Alicia Vikander) are vacationing in Greece. With a large left-wing political demonstration planned in Athens, they depart on a road trip to the peace and quiet of the countryside. At the end of a long day Beckett dozes off behind the wheel, and a bad crash ends with their car smashing into a secluded house. 

Beckett is hurt and hospitalized, but when he admits to spotting a young red-headed kid at the house, he finds himself a target of corrupt police officers and is forced to go on the run. Political activists Lena (Vicky Krieps) and Eleni (Maria Votti) help transport him to Athens, where he meets US embassy official Tynan (Boyd Holbrook). But with political tensions running high in the streets, Beckett's troubles are far from over.

While the Greek countryside provides rustic locations and Italian director Ferdinando Cito Filomarino knows his way around breathless action scenes, Beckett suffers from too much running around and not enough explanations. By the time Beckett survives the umpteenth attempt on his life and his broken bones count creeps towards the double digits, the impact is lost. 

Ironically, the quiet first 20 minutes are strong, writer Kevin A. Rice investing in the relationship between Beckett and April. They become a couple worth knowing, and their rapport heightens the jarring outcome of the car crash. But from the moment a couple of Greek police officers start taking ill-aimed pot shots at Beckett, character definitions are parked, and an intense guilt-ridden John David Washington performance is wasted.

The conspiracy is expressed in sketch terms at best, and involves the kidnapped son of a faceless left-wing politician, the bad guys described as either political opponents or mobsters, depending on who is providing the explanation. The nefarious Americans are, of course, up to their elbows in meddling and misdeeds. Beckett dodges all-comers on his way to the middle of the mayhem, but all meaningful motives remain mysterious.

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Thursday, 16 September 2021

Movie Review: The Last Letter From Your Lover (2021)

A romantic drama, The Last Letter From Your Lover interweaves timelines in an unabashedly old-fashioned celebration of love.

Two related stories are set in London and take place decades apart. In 1965, Jennifer Stirling (Shailene Woodley) is stuck in a loveless marriage with frequently absent and dismissive businessman Laurence (Joe Alwyn). After a car crash Jennifer suffers from memory loss, but she uncovers letters that help her remember the past and flashbacks reveal her love affair with financial journalist Anthony O'Hare (Callum Turner). They met on the French Riviera and fell deeply in love, and over several months exchanged passionate letters as they considered starting a new life together.

In modern day London, journalist Ellie Haworth (Felicity Jones) is still recovering from a difficult ending to a long relationship. While researching a story in the archives of the London Chronicle, she stumbles upon one of the letters between Jennifer and Anthony. Ellie teams up with archivist Rory McCallan (Nabhaan Rizwan) to dig up more of the letters and uncover the full extent of the long-ago love story. Meanwhile, Ellie and Rory also start to grow close, although she may not be ready for another relationship.

An adaptation of the Jojo Moyes book with a screenplay by Nick Payne and Esta Spalding, The Last Letter From Your Lover is irresistibly committed to tried-and-true romantic concepts. As both sets of lovers navigate familiar ups-and-downs, Augustine Frizzell directs with a welcome breeziness, brisk pacing and irony-free attitudes, helped by an attractive cast and grounded performances.

Packaged into a two-romances-in-one-film structure, the 1960s drama is stronger and features an unhappy wife finding the perfect man and having to grapple with the trade-off involved in abandoning her privileged life. The modern story is fuelled by the letters of the past, and offers an initially mismatched couple in Ellie and Rory, starting on opposite sides of a bureaucratic process before bumping against her lack of readiness for a new relationship.

None of the elements are new, but Frizzell tackles both stories with confidence and has two time eras to play with. In particular, the mid-1960s settings in London and the French Riviera provide rich opportunities for glamorous costumes and locations, recalling the jet-set lifestyle afforded to elites like the Stirlings. Ellie's modern context is less visually alluring, but her story is part romance, part journalistic snooping, both enlivened by sprinkles of humour.

Memory loss, men's demeaning behaviour towards women, a classic race against the clock, and an untimely car crash all pour into a final act that merges the two stories. The Last Letter From Your Lover is written in recognizable but quite elegant script.

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Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Movie Review: Fight Club (1999)

A drama about rediscovering masculinity in all the wrong places, Fight Club releases demons from the darkest recesses of the male psyche.

Suffering from insomnia, the narrator "Jack" (Edward Norton) is stuck in a soulless job he hates, assessing the need for auto recalls on behalf of a car manufacturer. He discovers that by joining support groups and pretending to suffer from ailments, he can release his emotions and sleep better. But this new habit is disrupted when he bumps into Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter), another impostor pulling the same stunt.

Jack meets cool and ebullient soap salesperson Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), and soon thereafter Jack's apartment blows up. He crashes at Tyler's place, a derelict house in an isolated part of town. Jack and Tyler start a fistfight and enjoy the experience of releasing their manliness. Soon Tyler is gaining a mythical reputation for organizing secretive underground fistfights among a growing group of men. Similar clubs sprout up across the country, and Marla re-emerges as Tyler's energetic sex partner. But as Tyler pushes towards more extremes of carnage, Jack starts to question their bond.

An adaptation of the novel by Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club is an anti-consumerism, anti-domestication diatribe. David Fincher directs the Jim Uhls script as a journey to the bottom, Jack following Tyler's lead and stripping life down to the nothingness of pain, apathy, and the rejection of social constructs. The movie is hard-hitting, dark, grungy and sometimes acidly funny, but also overlong and repetitive.

The theme of freedom through rediscovery of base male instincts is tackled with a wink. Tyler and Jack embark upon a journey where happiness in a purposeless world is found in an anarchic fondness for destroying things (starting with themselves and other men) and demonstrating sexual prowess with incredible, long-stamina sex. Masculinity's peak is also a nadir, a potential-filled starting point celebrated as a destination where nothing is accomplished. The men who accept the fight club rules and achieve the promised freedom from society's shackles are reduced to subservient slaves, incapable of thinking for themselves.

The film's pacing is uneven. Once the characters are established and the fight club instigated, Fincher frequently punches the same ticket, lingering at numerous basement brawls between interchangeable and half-naked sweaty men knocking the stuffing out of each other. The message of men finding an escape from their dull lives by releasing their medieval selves is delivered with repeated blow to the head and eventually starts to lose impact.

Which is a cue for more dangerous pranks, property destruction, and sabotage to bring down a society promoting male de-clawing. Tyler's unleashing of his knucklehead army to instigate large-scale mayhem is also Jack's prompt to finally question where his new and unconstrained friend is headed. The plot twist is not difficult to spot, the insomnia and weasel traits introduced as gateways to a new paradigm. Although filled with vivid images of crude deconstruction, Fight Club does stage its most potent struggle in a lonely place.

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Monday, 13 September 2021

Movie Review: The Silent Partner (1978)

A suspense thriller with dollops of hardened violence, The Silent Partner is a clever and twisty story with two very different thieves engaging in an unforgiving duel.

In Toronto, bachelor Miles Cullen (Elliot Gould) is a senior cashier at a bank located within a large mall. A collector of exotic fish, Miles is quiet and appears boring, but he is also observant. His married boss Packard (Michael Kirby) is having an affair with floor manager Julie (Susannah York), who is interested in Miles but can't quite figure him out. 

With Christmas approaching, Miles outsmarts Santa Clause-disguised bank robber Harry Reikle (Christopher Plummer), who gets away with little money while Miles pockets the best part of $50,000 without anyone noticing. As a bonus, Miles also becomes a media celebrity for his heroics in thwarting the crime.

Miles hides the stolen money in a safe deposit box, but Reikle is a vicious criminal who will stop at nothing to recover what he perceives as his take. He starts intimidating Miles, triggering a dangerous battle of wits between the two men. Meanwhile Miles' romantic prospects brighten when sprightly nurse Elaine (Celine Lomez) enters his life.

A Canadian production, The Silent Partner adapts the novel by Danish writer Anders Bodelsen with unrepentant deviousness. The Curtis Hanson script succeeds in creating a protagonist out of an almost accidental thief, and director Daryl Duke delivers a Hitchcockian chess match between two men simply unwilling to yield, all played against an Oscar Peterson music score with a wicked undercurrent of humour and malevolence holding hands.

Miles is easy to underestimate, a trait he uses to his advantage. His theft is surprisingly simple, trading on honest demeanour to pin the entire blame on Reikle. But a man willing to dress up as Santa Clause to rob a bank will not just accept his humiliation. In one of his scariest screen roles, Christopher Plummer creates a ruthless villain. His early assault on a sex partner appears vicious, but fades into insignificance when Reikle later reveals the true depths of his barbarism, providing The Silent Partner with a memorable and shocking jagged edge.

Accompanying the criminality are two romantic stories to provide a breather from impropriety. Julie knows she is wasting her time having an affair with the sleazy Packard. But unaware of what Miles is up to, she cannot get him to focus. Enter Elaine, who is quickly more successful worming her way into Miles' heart and bed and helping him with an awkward predicament, while carrying secrets of her own. 

The Silent Partner teases with the premise that crime maybe could pay when the victim is a criminal, and demonstrates with delightfully perilous convolutions.

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Sunday, 12 September 2021

Movie Review: Nevada Smith (1966)

An epic western, Nevada Smith is a grand tale of revenge and coming-of-age.

In the 1890s, outlaws Fitch (Karl Malden), Coe (Martin Landau) and Bowdre (Arthur Kennedy) murder the parents of Max Sand (Steve McQueen), a half-breed young man. Despite no education and no experience in killing, Max vows revenge and sets off to find the killers. He receives gun training from traveling gunsmith Jonas Cord (Brian Keith), then Kiowa woman Neesa (Janet Margolin) helps him identify Coe, a professional gambler and expert knifeman.

Max then locates Bowdre incarcerated in Louisiana, and stages a robbery to join him in a brutal prison located deep in the swamp lands. Max befriends Bowdre and plots an escape, using local woman Pilar (Suzanne Pleshette) to provide them with a boat. Max's final challenge is to find Fitch, now the leader of a large outlaw gang. He adopts the name Nevada Smith to mask his growing reputation and gain Fitch's trust.

Directed by Henry Hathaway and written by John Michael Hayes, Nevada Smith is inspired by a character in Harold Robbins' 1961 book The Carpetbaggers. This is a richly textured western with a story of personal growth unfolding over multiple chapters. Visually beautiful, the engrossing story of revenge fuelled by blind fury easily sustains 131 minutes of screen time.

Steve McQueen at 35 years old does struggle to convey a young Max Sand in the early scenes, and often appears more goofy than naive. As the narrative progresses, Hathaway could have helped by sharpening the definition of the passing years. Regardless, McQueen improves towards the latter segments, and his cool persona is fully meshed with his character for the final confrontation with Fitch.

Along the way, the Louisiana prison sequence is almost a film within a film and introduces a unique setting to the western milieu. Max's long detour to a brutal prison camp and the dangerous surrounding swamps carries a singular and memorable intensity.

At the metaphysical level, Max starts out as an empty vessel knowing only his family then pure evil and hatred. His arc introduces him to a good man in Jonas Cord, two good women from each side of his heritage in Neesa and Pilar, the meaning of a nurturing community with the Kiowa tribe, and finally God, through an encounter with Father Zaccardi (Raf Vallone). By the time Max is ready to close the chapter of his parents' death, he is mature, educated and much wiser to the world and his potential within it.

Karl Malden, Martin Landau, Arthur Kennedy, Brian Keith and Vallone offer robust support without stealing any scenes. Suzanne Pleshette does leave a haunting impression, her Pilar a prisoner without a crime sacrificing everything for a man still oblivious to his potential for exploitativeness. Nevada Smith searches for a violent brand justice, but stumbles upon the compassion and humanity required for a different future.

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