The Outsider (2002 TV Movie)
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But it is a better than average take on the dime-a-dozen romance novel genre. First of all, gone are the distracting subplots that dot the novel written by Penelope Williamson. Second, this version is long on visual poetry. A lot can be conveyed by simply letting the camera stay on the principle characters as they convey the emotional content of the story. Third, the director takes advantage of a much better than expected cast. Naomi Watts has emerged as a powerhouse of an actress in the last few years and she does not disappoint in this role. Tim Daly is restrained and manages to convey more than a touch of humor to what could be a well-worn stereotype of the world weary gunfighter.
If you're in the mood for a simple story, well acted and pretty to look at, this one will serve you well.
A must - simple, strong and beautiful.
Tim Daly is fantastic in this film. I had my doubts to whether or not he could pull it off: primarily I was worried that he wouldn't be "masculine" enough to play a rugged gunslinger. Boy was I wrong. Not only that, but his character has a variety of facets which are explored in a realistic way. A must see. If you like Deveraux, McNaught, Medeiros, Blake, Feather, etc...go out and rent this movie. You won't be disappointed.
Every so often, a movie comes along with an inspiring cast, a beautiful setting, dialog that sounds like people talking, foreshadow that makes sense and characters that emote deep sympathy.
Though not a great movie, this one is certainly above average and it has all the above qualities present in one form or another.
I think that modern society does not know how to deal with tender emotions. It has a tough time knowing the difference between that which we wish was true and that which really is. Women's novels have been taking it on the chin over this issue for decades. So many novels wind up as women's pornography which means that any sexual contact must be forestalled until the last possible moment when all the conditions of courtship have been met and met again (which takes 3/4 of the average female novel devoted to the subject). Contrast this with men's pornography which has the sexual act moving mountains in the first 20 pages.
One could say, as one reader did, that there likely is a flower on the cover that is, this is typically a woman's story.
I would like to disagree. This is primarily about values. If it was an ordinary movie, it would have ended with their marriage. It did not. He is a man that is reformed. He now knows what love is, something he knew nothing about before he met her.
And because he loves her, he will see that nothing happens to her. Or he will try. He is still very much a man with all of his former values. These values are just better directed.
She on the other hand is not horny. She does not go into heat at the sight of every man or any man. She is attracted to him because he does have values and one of them is to appreciate who she is. He sees worth in her almost as soon as his illness breaks. He appreciates her humor and her humanity. Of course he does not take to being reprimanded over the music, but he is being more playful and teasing than he is outraged and rebellious. He does not want to force her to back down. He just wants her to know that there is more to the world than she knows.
But the discussion of music is just beginning. She reveals that she hears everything around her as a fugue (not her words). He does not seem the least bit surprised.
What we find out is that she is very earthy as well as being spiritual. Her religion consists of everything around her. She would be religious in Helena Montana, New York, or on an ocean liner (none of which are the settings for this movie) because what she feels is all around her and nature creates its own music.
When they finally do make love, it is not lust: it is just another form of music. Her inability to hear is only momentarily covered over by falling into the trap of doing what she thinks she ought to do rather than feeling good about what she knows is best for her.
Naomi Watts is terrific as the lead although one does not think so in the beginning. She does not specialize in soft tender roles.
The male lead and the boy are also good and both are unknown to me as well. But they are both very convincing.
Summary 5 out of 5 if you feel like a romantic drama.
Johnny Gault is a world weary gunslinger who believes in his gun and nothing else. Rebecca Yodder belongs to a religious sect (The Plain People) who have strict rules for women and shun anything that may lead them to shame including any kind of music.
Rebecca's husband is murdered and her son and brother harassed by the local sheriff and his men for her land. Johnny arrives in the blazing sun and drops at her feet. She tends to him and he stays to help with the sheep and the farm.
The difference between Angel and the Badman and The Outsider, is that you actually see Rebecca's family and the community shun her as she begins to question her love for Johnny and the freedom it brings. At the same time, Johnny must deal with his past and with the present issue of the sheriff and his men threatening his newly adopted family.
What I really loved about this movie is the rhythm the director gave it with the hours and chores of the day, the beautiful score, and the stunning cinematography. Randa Haines (Children of a Lesser God, Hill Street Blues, The Ron Clark Story) assembled a cast that provides the emotional tension and drama that makes this movie worth watching. The chemistry between Daly and Watts is on target, and Daly will definitely make your heart beat a little faster. Keith Carradine plays a suitor and David Carradine plays the town doctor. John Noble (Lord of the Rings) plays the sheriff.
If you enjoy collecting westerns, especially romantic ones this one is a keeper.
A bit of trivia: The haunting music you hear in the background of the movie is mostly Norwegian folk songs. Two of the songs sung Bla Tonar Fra Lom and Jenta I Sauflokken can be found on the Nordisk Sang CD featuring various artists. There were no known Norwegian settlements in the US that were Amish, Mennonites or Quakers. Norwegian settlers were most likely Lutheran. The beautiful music still fits the movie and the mood. The movie, as most of you know is based on the historical romance The Outsider by author Penelope Williamson.
The Outsider, Johnny Gault (Tim Daly), arrives as a wounded stranger in an Amish-like community and is tended by Rebecca Yoder (Naomi Watts) who is a daughter of the 'plain' people. Doc Henry (David Carradine) wonders 'what kind of marks were left on his soul' when he sees the old wounds that were inflicted on Johnny's body. Although Johnny is seen as a 'shootist' and a dark, dangerous man, Rebecca has faith in the good of people.
The 'plain' people are intolerant of strangers and Noah Weaver (Keith Carradine), who is a potential suitor, resents the stranger. It is ironic that the 'plain' people do not realize that they too are Outsiders. Hunter, the cattle baron (John Noble) tells them that his family worked the land for three generations and he will not yield. Noah resents Rebecca's independence of thought. Although she belongs to the community, she does not share their herd instinct.
Rebecca experiences transcendence when she is in harmony with nature, it is then that she hears her inner music. It is pleasant for her to see the sun while Johnny knows how to read eyes because he is a 'shootist'. Because music is forbidden by the 'plain' people, except for the singing of hymns, she does not speak of her inner music to anyone except Johnny.
Johnny is a strong, passionate man and his facial expressions reveal his inner moods of anger, love and hate. He often reveals a sense of humour when, for instance, Rebecca asks him why he is buying a horse he replies, 'because you are the one that promised that I was gonna be gone.'
The preacher and the 'plain' people do not practice what he preaches: 'he who loveth God love his brother.' They see Johnny as the Outsider, not as a 'brother' within their closed community; Johnny sees them as 'kind folk.'
Doc Henry is a perceptive man who, in his quiet, understated way, understands people. The contrast of sun and rain, light and dark during the scenes of emotional intensity underscores the drama. The fine interactions of the ensemble cast all contribute towards the excellent film which is 'truly a pleasant thing to behold.'
But beautiful Queensland, Australia fills in quite nicely for Montana as the usual isolated farmhouse works romantic wonders on a hardened gunman (Tim Daly, in a surprisingly convincing tough guy undergoing physical and slow psychic rehabilitation turn) and a kind, religious yet horny widow (Naomi Watt with an excellent American accent) threatened by evil cattlemen.
From the opening shots, the twist is that she makes the significant moves and decisions in her relationships, and the two leads have dynamic chemistry together.
Another twist is that we get to see two Carradines not playing brothers, and neither gets the girl.
Credit to director Randa Haines for the combination of emoting, setting, cinematography, and editing to emphasize the characters' conflicts and changes.
If your only familiarity with actor Tim Daly is the character he portrayed in the TV comedy "Wings", then you're in for a surprise. He's genuinely convincing as gunfighter Johnny Gault and takes up the gauntlet early on behalf of Rebecca and her young son Benjo. His own transforming redemption begins when rancher Fergus Hunter (John Noble) comes calling with benign contempt - "I believe I heard you speakin' unkindly to this kind lady".
If the title hadn't been used before, "The Angel and the Badman" would have been a perfect fit for this story. That 1947 Republic film cast John Wayne in a similar role to Johnny Gault playing opposite Gail Russell. In a scene highly reminiscent of the earlier movie, Johnny leaves his holstered gun behind to take part in the hymnal service; John Wayne's character did the same more than once to show deference for a people who live a 'plain and narrow life'.
That plain life begins to unravel for Rebecca as she commits herself to Johnny. It's here where the film explores the prohibitive constraints of religious belief and traditions, as Rebecca winds up the most dangerous person in her Quaker like community, a free thinker. There's a wonderfully symbolic moment following Rebecca's speech to the congregation declaring her love for Gault; as she runs outside to be with him, the camera focuses on her white cap, 'fallen' to the ground as if to underscore her schism from the community.
The other symbolic moment, and one just as powerful occurs as Johnny and Benjo maintain a vigil over the severely wounded Rebecca. Johnny's gun and bullets go into the fire, along with Benjo's sling, as if to atone for her shooting at the hands of Hunter's henchman. It's a renouncing of a former life and the start of a new one, if only Rebecca survives.
Be sure to pay attention throughout the entire film to appreciate the exceptional cinematography. One scene in particular has a beautiful moon shot that dissolves around a horse drawn buggy and is wonderfully done. Also, as others have mentioned in their posts for the film, the Norwegian background music is a perfect complement to the events on screen.
FINAL VERDICT: If you like romantic stories, where the lady has to be rescued by a handsome stranger, then you'll like this one too.
Critical to the success of the film was Timothy Daly's acting. He was fabulous! He made his character believable and interesting to watch. Naomi did a great job also. The setting (and the way it was filmed) was enjoyable also. I thought the script was good. The story moved along nicely while developing the characters. A person who was an orphan, who was tortured, without love, cut off emotionally, and involved in soul-scarring violence found love, a home, a family, and peace.