This is a wonderful film that tells the story of a love triangle between two men and a married woman against the backcloth of the decline of the traditional west just after the second world war. There are some brilliant performances in it, especially from Woody Harrelson, Billy Crudup and Patricia Arquette. Definitely recommended
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This film has just been broadcast on DSTV in South Africa and what a little unheralded gem this film turned out to be. There has been one review on Amazon by Bob Salter on the 4th December 2012 and recommend that you read it since it it is a thorough and accomplished review, to which i can add very little except for a couple of points.
Penelope Cruz i felt underplayed the part of Billy Crudupp's girlfriend and consequently one realised the great attraction of 'Big Boys' girlfried played by Patricia Arquette, quite brilliantly.It is fair to say as Bob Salter quite rightly pointed out that Steven Friars, the Director, failed to develop the character of Sam Elliot the cattle baron of the new generation to the extent that he was superflous except for the fact that his Foreman's wife, played by Patricia Arquette was the lynchpin of the whole story, so one lost the poingnancy of the changing times from the old mythical west to the new modern business way of ranching. Having said that the musical score, cinematography and acting are impeccable and hence the 4 star rating.
Turning to Woody Carrelson, his part as 'Big Boy' was quite superb and i rate this as his finest part(Yes, better than his homosexual role in 'The Walker', where he accompanies Senators wives to fuctions when their husbands cannot attend and gets embroiled in murder and politics). With the exception of Penelope Cruz, the acting by the rest of the cast is faultless with Billy Crudupp, playing Harrelson's best friend,superbly complimenting Harrelson.
I thoroughly recommend this film to anyone who enjoys a well acted film with a good storyline, great music and cinematography.
A hard film to get hold of in European format, I had to bite the bullet and pay a bit more than my pocket likes to watch this film that seems to have disappeared from public view. Ever since western author Max Evans published his novel "The Hi-Lo Country" in 1961 there had been talk of a movie adaption. Legendary director Sam Peckinpah tried to bring it to the screen many times, it's elegiac tale about the passing of the ideals of a mythic old west being one that would no doubt have appealed immensely to the great man. Finally Martin Scorcese was handed a copy of the tale, but committed elsewhere decided to adopt production duties and handed the reins to British director Stephen Frears, a strange choice for a film that is so deeply American to its core.
Oliver Stapleton's camera uses the majestic open spaces of New Mexico to evoke a feeling of a vast canvas upon which to play out the story. Woody Harrelson and Billy Crudup are the two old time cowboys who battle against an unscrupulous cattle baron played by the ever watchable Sam Elliott, who has virtually bought up the town whilst they were fighting in the Second World War. Ignoring the blandishments of Elliott the two team up with an old time rancher played by James Gammon, his rugged features and rasping western drawl perfect for that role. Together they try to raise cattle in the old cowboy ways. Alas trouble comes along in the very attractive form of Mona, a beautiful temptress played by Patricia Arquette. Already married to Elliott's foreman, both men fall for her and a powder keg is ignited in the Hi-Lo country.
First compliment should go to Woody Harrelson, who's bravura performance largely carries the film. He is perfectly cast as the belligerant larger than life character Big Boy. Billy Crudup offers excellent support as his brooding partner Pete Calder. Patricia Arquette is a believable pouting seductress, although why Crudup should desire her more than Penelope Cruz one of the worlds most beautiful women is a mystery. But then it's only a film right? Cruz plays the Mexican girlfriend of Crudup, in a role similar to the one she played in "All the Pretty Horses", a film that bears an uncanny resemblence to "The Hi-Lo Country". The film has a brilliant musical score by Carter Bulwell and there is a showstopping virtuoso singing performance in the film by country and western singer Don Walser. There is a Peckinpah connection with the screenplay written by "The Wild Bunch" writer Walon Green and the brief appearance of the great Mexican actress Katy Jurado who appeared in "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid".
Sadly all this cannot paper over a good few cracks. The film becomes mired in the three way relationship between Harrelson, Crudup and Arquette leaving other characters underdeveloped, most notably Elliott's cadaverous cattle baron who needed far more exposure. The clash of ideals was a worthy theme that got a little lost in the lust for Mona. One can't help but think that Peckinpah would have held tighter reins and kept to more important themes. But he didn't and instead of a great film we get one that just about passes muster. There is much in it I like and because I am generous and biased where westerns are concerned I have given it a generous four stars, although three and a half is closer to the mark. Worth a shout for western fans. I watched a French region 2 DVD which was fine, although I was unable to get rid of the French sub titles. This was probably me being a numpty!
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At that time, the special effects of the film were good. I think the movie would be better if it ended a little bit more sad. This film is very nice. I like actor in supporting role. The plot was dramatic and thrilling. I watched this movie with my father.