Wednesday, February 17, 2010
A Guy Pearce Western!! So he's playing...an Irishman. In Australia. Okay. Now that that's out of the way, I can talk about how fucking amazing this movie is. I am wary of Westerns and the like, due to the large possibility of boredom. Not so here. Though the whole movie is not a shoot-em-up extravaganza, it IS full, top to bottom, of one thing most Westerns sorely lack: good acting.
The opening credits begin the story, which starts out happily enough, with a montage of family photos. By the end of the credits, though, we are shown the aftereffects of a revolting crime that gets the action moving.
Pearce plays a (former?) criminal in the 1880s, one of the three Burns brothers, who is given a horrible proposition by a police captain who has tracked him down. This tricky man is played sweatily and somehow sympathetically by Ray Winstone, full Sexy Beast accent intact.
The scenery in this film is a character itself. The sun beats down white rays onto a barren desert, the sand and flies swirling into eyes and parched mouths. By some miracle, Emily Watson, as the sheriff's wife, is able to maintain a garden.
The Aborigines play a large role here as well. They are the servants, the sidekicks, the "barbarians," the translators, and the jailed.
Danny Huston is perfect as an uncaught, terrifying, violent man to whom family means everything. Richard Wilson is heartbreaking as the youngest brother, used as a pawn in big mens' games.
There is violence aplenty here, some inferred, some stomach-turning scenes, but none are to be missed, and none are purely to shock.
The characters sound stock: 3 brothers, one noble, one mad, one innocent, a captain unsure of his true feelings, a shocked wife, a monologue-delivering drunk (John Hurt), and a villainous lawman. But you've not seen them like this before.