A very slow film... but that's not a bad thing
- Hostiles review by PR
I am often critical of some modern films that seem so slow and languishing, sometimes leaving me thinking I have wasted a couple of viewing hours. It seems to be a trait observed regularly these days. The Hostiles is a long film, and it's pace, or should I say 'style' could certainly be described as ‘slow’ — but it certainly grips you right from the start and then it doesn't let up. I said to my wife after we sat through nearly three hours of The Hostiles something I have seldom said... I told her that the film was really rather slow... but it was also BRILLIANT for all that! We both agreed that we had just watched a most absorbing, chilling & sometimes quite brutal movie. We also agreed that it was probably one of the best movies we have watched in the past year or so.
It seems that every moment is lingered on (apart from sudden brutal scenes), but the acting, sparse script, character development and overall attention to detail is stunning — so the pace works perfectly well. Visually the movie is frankly amazing, and there's a real sense of authenticity in the sets and costumes etc. Indeed, it's worth watching the Special Features found on the Blu-ray version, as you then get a sense of the extremely meticulous production and directing techniques, and also the passion that every actor or behind-the-camera person put into the drama.
Christian Bale gives a wonderful, sombre performance as a man who has his demons, but is very much a product of the times in which he lived. He has led a life that is hard, brutal and difficult but he has qualities that make him a special person in such a lawless and cruel period of American history. Rosamund Pike is a seriously talented actor and she grips you from the very start and right up to the last dramatic moments of the story. I pick out Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike, but actually every single performance in the movie is breath-takingly good. I have to take my hat off to the fantastic cast and the truly awesome production team behind them.
This film was recommended to me by a friend and without that I think I could have easily missed it — but I would have been missing out on a very special three hours of viewing.
I also want to mention the photography and the music. The wide-shot scenes of New Mexico and Colorado (the main locations used for filming) are simply beautiful. Visually you really are taken to the Wild West with unflinching detail and cinematographic skills. I believe that the musical score for a movie too often gets 'overlooked' in reviews etc. I have always considered that a well crafted music soundtrack can add as much 'punch' and 'emotion' to a movie, as often the acting and screenplay do. It can be that important an ingredient. In The Hostiles I was a little disappointed that the ‘Extra Features’, whilst mentioning the location efforts, authentic costumes, acting prowess and production talent, did not really mention the music! Throughout the whole of the film the music is simply sublime. It's powerful and emotional, and provides a fantastic backdrop to the visuals. I have already mentioned that the movie is meticulous and played-out creatively at a 'slow pace' and therefore I feel the music is even more important in 'carrying' the long scenes, which are often performed with little dialogue, and then the superbly composed music makes the whole thing so damn powerful.
So, summing up: Acting is brilliant and detailed, Production and Direction is masterful, the photography and set/costumes have such authenticity... and the music gels the whole piece of work together to form a very solid piece of modern film artistry. It also makes you seriously think about America's history, back in those difficult pioneer days, when the treatment of the indigenous native peoples minorities, the hard lives and devastating brutality was complex, cruel and devastating. So, even from a 'social documenting' angle The Hostiles should not be ignored.
A beautifully crafted movie.
6 out of 6 members found this review helpful.
A Revisionist Western
- Hostiles review by JR
The film is bleak and harrowing and very violent - the only light relief is the extraordinarily beautiful cinematography. At the beginning we are told that Blocker 'has taken more scalps than Sitting Bull himself'. The journey is also Blocker's inner journey to a kind of remorse for his life of killing and perhaps redemption. Unfortunately, the Native American characters are reduced to either murderous savages (the bad ones) or wise sages (the good ones). There are problems with the Rosamund Pike character who is mentally unhinged by the killing of her entire family, but recovers unfeasibly quickly. When she has a chance to return to safety and civilization, she unaccountably rejects it and continues on the trek. The film maker seems to love the violence he decries, and thus undermines the message of the the film.
5 out of 5 members found this review helpful.
Well worth a watch
- Hostiles review by JG
Moody and earthy film that depicts the butchery and atrocities of the American West as seen through the eyes of soldier, settler and a native Indian.
Christian Bale gives a tremendous performance as the captain in charge of transporting an ailing Indian chief back to his homeland to die. The film questions brutality on both sides and shows that differences are resolvable but take time and deep understanding. Rosamund Pike plays a settler who’s family is wiped out by comanchees and is the centre of this controversy raised in the film.
Really good use of Indian dialogue. Really good acting. Well worth a watch.
4 out of 4 members found this review helpful.