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Two young Texas cowboys on the cusp of manhood ride into 1940's Mexico in search of experience. What they find is a country as chaotic as it is beautiful, as cruel and unfeeling as it is mysterious, where death is a constant, capricious companion.Written by
Richard Foxx <email@example.com>
When the three cowboys cross the Rio Grande, their left-to-right order on the screen is Cole, Blevins, Rawlins. Then when the camera returns to them a moment later, it is Blevins, Cole, Rawlins. See more »
In the opening credits, the Columbia Pictures emblem is not the 2000 one. Instead, it is the circa 1949 version with the woman holding the torch. This is what would have been used at the time the story is set. See more »
The first cut by director Billy Bob Thornton was ca. 4 hours long. It was later cut down to the 116 min. version released to theatres. See more »
A lovely, meandering story with some terrific acting -- unfortunately not from the two leads -- which takes us nowhere.
Watch some really exhilarating cinematography, first of the great West, then of some marvelous horses. Admire some of the best acting you'll see all year. Wonder at the adventuresomeness of a story bold enough to leave many issues open and to resolve others against expectations. And shake your head as it all falls apart because of one mediocre and one horrid performance. Be vexed at the racism underlying nearly all the images. And then puzzle over why this was made in the first place.
The mediocre performance is by Damon of course; I continue to be vexed by the success of ordinary actors. The truly horrid is Cruz and everything she touches. Heavy breathing isn't acting, as BillyBob knows, and her part is the only conventional element in an otherwise alternative plot.
Sam Shepard, Bruce Dern, Ruben Blades, and Miriam Colon put in supersolid performances, each in small monologues. An unknown actor playing the constable and young Lucas Black have more sustained parts which scintillate. But these valued components fail to coalesce, and we especially need for them to because our expectations are so high. Just in terms of the story, when you are bold enough to buck expectations in plot turns, we cannot take ourselves anywhere so we trust that the filmmaker has a purpose, a specific place for us to go.
That place could be the ordinary story of the resources an ordinary man marshalls when faced with a world actively conspired against him. It could have been a regular tragedy of small faults snowballing to a tipping point. It could have followed the automatic hero/buddy formula. It might have been a lost love story. It chose none of these, or rather all of them.
Yet another example of what happens when you put an actor in charge: all in the performance, none in the vision. If you think a great film should be important or at least interesting, this isn't for you despite its promise.
9 of 17 people found this review helpful.
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