The Last Rites of Ransom Pride
dir Tiller Russell
scr Ray Wylie Hubbard, Tiller Russell
prd Michael Frislev, Duncan Montgomery, Chad Oakes
with Lizzy Caplan, Jon Foster, Dwight Yoakam, Scott Speedman, Cote de Pablo, Kris Kristofferson, Peter Dinklage, Jason Priestley W Earl Brown, Mark Hanson, Alfonso Quijada, Luis Javier
release UK Jun.10 eiff
09/Canada 1h24
The Last Rites of Ransom Pride
On a mission: Caplan

foster yoakam speedman
london film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Last Rites of Ransom Pride Stylish and grisly but also choppy and pretentious, this gritty revenge Western is almost farcical in the way it tries to complicate its simplistic plot. And the cast members are encouraged to chomp on the scenery until there's nothing left.

It's 1912 on the Texas-Mexico border, and Juliette (Caplan) made a promise to bury her dead boyfriend Ransom (Speedman in monochrome flashbacks) next to his mama. But Ransom's killer-turned-preacher father (Yoakam) blames her for taking his son to Mexico to begin with. As he plots against Juliette, his younger son Champ (Foster) runs off with her to claim the body from a witchy, scarfaced madam (de Pablo). Meanwhile, Dad enlists a gunslinger (Krostofferson) and his goons (Priestley and Brown) to hunt Juliette down. Clearly they won't all make it back alive.

Amid the sea of overacting, Caplan and Foster emerge as believable characters, even if their tentative romance is a non-starter. The problem is that the actors play each scene with grunting, gasping sincerity, pausing dramatically between every other word. The only one who gets the balance right is Dinklage, who has some genuine wit as an actor/medicine man in a lengthy and irrelevant diversion from the central plot.

From start to finish, director-cowriter Russell overeggs the film with bad camera angles, whooshing sound effects, time-lapse effects and crash-edits that look like a "previously on..." segment in fast-forward. And the action scenes are so badly shot and edited that we never have a clue what's happening in them. The result is almost hyperactive and, when combined with the bug-eyed performances, it often resembles a po-faced spoof.

Sure, it all looks achingly cool, and audiences who are won over by whizzy imagery and brutal violence will probably love this. But for the rest of us there's just nothing here. The relentless randomness of the story's progression leaves the film feeling draggy and meandering. One key plot moment between Foster and Yoakam is mind-bogglingly implausible. The cameras have a leery quality that leaves us feeling a bit dirty. And the vengeance plot is so convoluted that the film ends up without a point at all.

cert 15 themes, language, strong violence 15.Jun.10 eiff

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... The Last Rites of Ransom Pride Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2010 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall