Jessica Chastain turns in another thoughtful, nomination-worthy performance as Catherine Weldon, a 19th-century East Coast painter who journeyed West for new subjects and struck up a friendship with legendary Native leader Sitting Bull (with some dangerous consequences), adopting the tribal name 'Woman Walking Ahead.' Michael Greyhorse gives a soulful, defiant portrayal of Sitting Bull, with typically welcome flinty counterpoint from Sam Rockwell as calvary man Silas Groves. Though the real Weldon and Sitting Bull were older than the actors portraying them (as often happens in Hollywood; the gunslingers the film Young Guns was based on were not the dashing hunks like Emilio Estevez, Lou Diamond Phillips, etc. that portrayed them), Woman Walks Ahead is a fine addition to the cinema of the lost American West and the people that once roamed there, and as America swings ever right-ward against women's rights, a reminder that the feminine spirit that can never be entirely quashed by retrograde conservative forces.
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