22 of 30 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Meek's Cutoff [DVD]  (DVD)
This is my favourite film of 2011 so far (along with Malick's Tree of Life).
It's a strange film - a slow-burning, mesmerising, almost hypnotic depiction of a group of travellers lost on the Oregon Trail. Led by Stephen Meek, the group has taken a short-cut and lost their way in dry, inhospitable country. Low on water and losing confidence in their apparently incompetent guide, they stumble from setback to setback in what seems like a grueling, agonisingly slow trek towards death.
While the whole cast is superb, Michelle William performance as Emily Tetherow, the one person holding the tenuous group together, is outstanding. As the social cohesion in the group begins to unravel, Emily's toughness, resilience and fortitude seems to provide the only hope.
Beware though. This is a very slow moving film. There is little plot and little action. Those expecting a Western romp with gun-slinging and whiskey drinking will be sorely disappointed.
Another thing to be aware of is the aspect ratio. When I saw the film in the cinema, it was projected in Academy frame ratio (1:33-1) making the film look deliberately old-fashioned. At first I wondered about this. Why would the director choose to make an almost square framed film rather than a wide-screen film, which would at first seem perfectly suited to the beautiful landscape. I think therein lies the reason. By shooting in a square format, the viewer is not distracted by the country; attention if focussed firmly on the characters themselves, their faces, their reactions.
Overall, I loved this film and can't wait for the DVD release.