Meek’s Cutoff

MPAA Rating: PG

Entertainment: +4

Content: +3

Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood, Will Patton. Western. Written by Jonathan Raymond. Directed by Kelly Reichardt.

FILM SYNOPSIS: The year is 1845, the earliest days of the Oregon Trail, and a wagon train of three families has hired mountain man Stephen Meek to guide them over the Cascade Mountains. Claiming to know a short cut, Meek leads the group on an unmarked path across the high plain desert, only to become lost in the dry rock and sage. Over the coming days, the emigrants face the scourges of hunger, thirst and their own lack of faith in one another's instincts for survival. When a Native American wanderer crosses their path, the emigrants are torn between their trust in a guide who has proven himself unreliable and a man who has always been seen as a natural- born enemy.

PREVIEW REVIEW: I was reminded of Terrance Malick’s Days of Heaven, as the director of Meek’s Cutoff shows the same courage in taking his time to tell his tale. In this decade of fast editing and CGI trickery, filmmaker Kelly Reichardt goes against convention, using long, exploratory shots of the land to set the mood and give us a visual and visceral portrait of the pioneers’ trek. By using a deliberate, slow pace, Reichardt makes the terrain an actual character, revealing an unknown and often unforgiving land. In his film, we get to know the frontier as much as those who trod upon it. 
 At times this slow pace may be a trail for today’s filmgoer, but once you adjust to the lingering cinematography, you become a part of the journey. You’ll get to know these amazing people, a people who truly faced the unknown in order to come to a better place.

I can’t say anything about the end, because it’s unexpected and needs to be experienced firsthand. Suffice it to say, it is unlike any film ending I can remember. The ending scene, like the film itself, is an allegory about faith, trust and endurance.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Oscilloscope Pictures

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: None

Profanity: None

Violence: The violence is brief; as they capture the Indian, he is somewhat mistreated by some, ogled by others as a curiosity, and shown compassion by one. Some blood is seen trickling down the Indian’s head after he is kicked by one man.

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: None

Other: This thought-provoking hymn to life shows us a people who read the Bible, and, despite their fears, showed their enemy compassion.

Running Time: 104 minutes
Intended Audience: Art house movie fans.

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