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Wade Whitehouse is a sheriff of a small New Hampshire town who achieved nothing in life in the opinion of his ex-wife Lillian and daughter Jill and is a heavy drinker. His girlfriend Margie accepts him the way he is. On the first day of the hunting season, Wade's friend Jack takes a wealthy businessman to hunt - and only Jack returns alive. Wade decides to play detective and starts investigating the case despite the fact Jack insists it was an accidental self-inflicted shot. Written by
This is a movie which rewards at many levels. Its characters are fleshed out human beings capable of good and evil and in the grips of intense suffering, not the formulaic cardboard creations which populate so many recent Hollywood productions. The movie's atmosphere and mood are thick and the bleakness of the New Hampshire winter comes alongside its beauty and majesty. Paul Schrader achieves here what has eluded the Coen brothers in Fargo. The photography of Paul Sarossy is of a rare beauty and his compositions are breathtaking. Think of the scene of the two brothers in the barn lit by light sneaking in through the slits in the wood exterior, the beauty of the snow covered New Hampshire chalets, the camera receding from the barn fire until we get to watch it through a slightly off-center picture-window from the main house, and finally think of the snow in its serenity, its menace, its domination. The two stories are so naturally intertwined that one can spend most of the time convinced one is watching a thriller, until in the end this thriller dissolves into the main story which explores the violent undercurrents of human love and bonding. This whole is as thick and rich as cream.
I am in awe of Nick Nolte's spectacular performance. It is honest, complex and totally convincing. Nolte is ably supported by James Coburn and others. This is moviemaking at its best.
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