Monday, February 09, 2009
"Life has a way of making the foreseeable that which never happens... and the unforeseeable that which your life becomes."
Written by: Robert Knott, Ed Harris
Directed by: Ed Harris
Starring: Edd Harris, Viggo Mortensen, Renee Zellweger, Jeremy Irons
My Rating: 8/10
Appaloosa might not be the best film ever made, or the most original story ever told, but it sure is buckets of fun. If you enjoy a good western you will certainly enjoy this. It's slow and methodical, as has been the trend in recent years (almost every western I can think of since Unforgiven), but has a great sense of humour and colourful characters.
The story follows two hitmen, Virgil (Harris) and Everett (Mortensen) who work on the civilised side of the law, who arrive in Appaloosa to kill ruthless gang leader Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons). Along the way they meet vulnerable widow Ali French (Renee Zellweger). This causes complications as women tend to do and the three battle it out against the gangsters, and must face questions of future and growing out of gunslinging.
As we have previously seen in David Cronenberg's "A History of Violence" Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen have wonderful chemistry together. They are both powerful actors and both seem to have enormous respect for each other. These characters suit each actor perfectly, giving Ed Harris plenty of screen time for his steely glare and giving Viggo a nice change of pace in a very humorous role. He doesn't say much but his performance is wonderfully full of character nonetheless.
Supporting roles from Jeremy Irons and Renee Zellweger are strong but please someone put some makeup on that poor woman. She never fails to look haggard in everything lately, despite her beautiful face. It's also nice to see veteran gravel-voice Lance Henrickson return to our screens in a proper movie. His disposition is so suited to Westerns, I've decided to lobby for his inclusion in all future productions set in the wild, wild west (though as long as there's still hope for a Millenium movie, I will want to keep his schedule somewhat clear).
The film rambles along, keeping the story simple and amusing us with it's nice characters, interesting relationships and subtle humour. It's a really sweet little film which showcases the talents of all involved. Ed Harris tries out his directing chops here and keeps it slow and steady enough to prove he's got skills on both sides of the camera.
I definitely recommend checking this one out. Don't expect to be blown away with plot twists but just enjoy it as a pleasant little ramble through the genre.
- Charlene Lydon 10/2/09