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Jake Roedel and Jack Bull Chiles are friends in Missouri when the Civil War starts. Women and Blacks have few rights. Jack Bull's dad is killed by Union soldiers, so the young men join the Bushwhackers, irregulars loyal to the South. One is a Black man, Daniel Holt, beholden to the man who bought his freedom. They skirmish then spend long hours hiding. Sue Lee, a young widow, brings them food. She and Jack Bull become lovers, and when he's grievously wounded, Jake escorts her south to a safe farm. The Bushwhackers, led by men set on revenge, make a raid into Kansas. At 19, Jake is ill at ease with war. As his friends die one after another, he must decide where honor lies. Written by
When Jake complains of losing the upper-half of his pinky finger, the brace holding down the top joints of the actor's finger is briefly shown as the camera pulls in on his hand. See more »
On the western frontier of Missouri, the American Civil War was fought not by armies, but by neighbors. Informal gangs of local southern Bushwhackers fought a bloody and desperate guerrilla war against the occupying Union Army and pro-Union Jayhawkers.
Allegiance to either side was dangerous. But it was more dangerous still to find oneself caught in the middle.
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In anticipation of Ang Lee's new movie "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," I saw this at blockbuster and figured I'd give it a try. A civil war movie is not the typical movie I watch. Luckily though, I had a good feeling about this director. This movie was wonderfully written. The dialogue is in the old southern style, yet doesn't sound cornily out of place and outdated. The spectacular acting helped that aspect of the movie. Toby Maguire was awesome. I thought he was good (but nothing special) in Pleasantville, but here he shines. I have always thought of Skeet Ulrich as a good actor (but nothing special), but here he is excellent as well. The big shocker for me was Jewel. She was amazingly good. Jeffrey Wright, who I had never heard of before, is also excellent in this movie. It seems to me that great acting and great writing and directing go hand in hand. A movie with bad writing makes the actors look bad and visa versa. This movie had the perfect combination. The actors look brilliant and the character development is spectacular. This movie keeps you wishing and hoping good things for some and bad things for others. It lets you really get to know the characters, which are all very dynamic and interesting. The plot is complex, and keeps you on the edge of your seat, guessing, and ready for anything at any time. Literally dozens of times I was sure someone was going to get killed on silent parts in the movie that were "too quiet" (brilliant directing). This was also a beautifully shot movie. The scenery was not breath taking (It's in Missouri and Kansas for goodness sakez) but there was clearly much attention put into picking great nature settings. Has that rough and rugged feel, but keeps an elegance, which is very pleasant on the eyes. The movie was deep. It told a story and in doing so made you think. It had layers underneath that exterior civil war story. Specifically, it focused on two characters that were not quite sure what they were fighting for. There were many more deep issues dealt with in this movie, too many to pick out. It was like a beautifully written short story, filled with symbolism and artistic extras that leaves you thinking during and after the story is done. If you like great acting, writing, lots of action, and some of the best directing ever, see this movie! Take a chance on it.
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