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|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir David Von Ancken|
scr David Von Ancken, Abby Everett Jaques
with Pierce Brosnan, Liam Neeson, Michael Wincott, Ed Lauter, John Robinson, Robert Baker, Anjelica Huston, Angie Harmon, Tom Noonan, Wes Studi, Kevin O'Connor, Xander Berkeley
relese US 26.Jan.07, UK 24.Aug.07
06/US Icon 1h55
Gotcha: Brosnan and Neeson
A straightforward tale of a relentless pursuit across the American West is deepened with an intriguingly internalised examination of revenge and remorse, plus a surprisingly emotional anti-war theme.
Shortly after the American Civil War, Gideon (Brosnan) is hunting in the snow-covered mountains when he's spotted from a distance by Carver (Neeson), who's chasing him with a hired posse (Wincott, Lauter, Robinson and Baker) because of something that happened at Seraphim Falls during the war. But Gideon proves to be elusive and inventive, and as they chase him from the mountains down into the prairies and finally the salt flats, these two men must confront each other--opening old wounds and settling old scores.
While the plot itself is a bit meandering and repetitive, the film works wonderfully on two levels: as a stunning display of cinematographer John Toll's skills and as an intensely personal journey for two grizzled, world-weary men. The New Mexico landscapes dominate the film visually, lending a spectacularly expansive scope to the intimate drama. There's a strong mythical quality to the film, which plays out almost like a 19th century version of First Blood as Gideon uses the raw setting against his pursuers, laying traps and waiting silently to pounce.
Brosnan and Neeson really sink their teeth into the complexities of their roles, especially in each of their face-off moments. Brosnan's husky growl (he looks like the lost member of ZZ Top) and Neeson's focused but perhaps misplaced integrity give it some true grit. These are two men who have been broken by war, trying desperately to regain a sense of simplicity in their lives. The smaller side characters all add texture and colour, especially Huston's bizarre vamping in the eerily surreal finale.
As it progresses, the film builds a sharp level of tension, which is cleverly augmented as the screenwriters slowly drip details about the past into the story. Until that picture is complete, this style of storytelling leaves the film feeling like a simple vengeance fable with a cyclical pattern of pursuits, confrontations and lone wanderings. It drags a bit as a result, but it also gets well beneath the skin.
|Alice Schultz, email: "I would suggest that the correct way of understanding it is that it is an elucidation of the doctrine of Purgatory -- by which word I'm meaning a shorthand for certain themes of the next life that affect universal concerns in this one (guilt, sin, suffering, consolation, absolution). Gideon and Carver are already dead when the film begins; we are watching the working out of their redemption beyond the grave, which requires forgiveness and reconciliation. Understood this way, Seraphim Falls, though not an entirely flawless film, is serious, strong, cautionary and hopeful -- a deep success in a very important way."(2.Jun.08)|
© 2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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