Saturday, 17 September 2016

#59 HELL OR HIGH WATER



Starring: Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster and Gil Birmingham. Written by Taylor Sheridan. Directed by David Mackenzie.

Budget $12 million. 102 minutes long.

The story of two sets of brothers, one paternal, one fraternal and their inextricable date with destiny and death. Playing out like a modern day western this sees poor as dirt brothers, Toby and Tanner Howard (Chris Pine and Ben Foster - one an ex-con, the other a divorced and unemployed father ) carry out a spree of small-scale bank robberies across West Texas in order to pay off the debts left behind by the death of their mother. The brothers have a week to pay off the banks or risk them foreclosing on the failed family farm, which it's been discovered is sat on a huge oil field.

Choosing only small banks in deprived areas and only taking small bills from the tills, their crimes fail to interest the FBI and so it falls to, soon to retire, Texas Ranger, Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and his, much put-upon, partner, native American Indian Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham) to stop the bank-robbing brothers. Marcus who's just been handed his retirement papers takes up the chase, seemingly as a way to put a full-stop to his career, or perhaps to die heroically in a hail of gunfire, thus avoiding the slow death of an aimless, empty retirement. As the two pairs of brothers lazily drift into each other's paths, this film slowly takes its time, building character and subtly exploring motives and relationships until the inevitable showdown and a poignant conclusion that's both satisfying and  open ended.

Wrongly accused of racism and sexism by the more sensitive and easily offended members of the viewing public because of the lack of significant female characters and the brotherly verbal abuse of Gil Birmingham's Alberto Parker by Jeff Bridge's Marcus Hamilton, this is an utterly superb film, indeed one of my favourite films of the year so far. Each of the four main characters give layered, nuanced performances, the sound track by Nic Cave and Warren Ellis is evocative and moving and the cinematography is beautiful. Directed with real skill by David MacKenzie who also gave us the incredibly claustrophobic Starred Up this was a deeply satisfying and extremely enjoyable movie and well worth seeing, particularly if you're as bored shitless as I am by the current glut of big, bloated, bland, generic, hollywood popcorn movies that have stunk up this summer's movie theatres.

Do you self a favour and go and see this, one of this year's best movies.

9/10






1 comment:

  1. The small budget suggests it's going to be good. Jeff Bridges confirms it.

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