Sunday, June 11, 2006
This bloody Australian Western, written by Nick Cave, directed by John Hillcoat, and starring Guy Pearce, Ray Winstone (who is inspired), Danny Huston, John Hurt, David Wenham, and Emily Watson is an exercise in elegance and economy. It's a beautiful piece, so violent it might make Peckinpah cringe, but most amazing is the starkness of the plot—how little is said and done to set forth epic conflict. I want to give nothing away, but I will say that by the end of the first scene, the film's major dilemma is set firmly in place. That dilemma has consequences for all the major characters, and the complications deepen, twist, and intensify with no contrivance and gorgeous simplicity. I'd recommend it to any writer (all of us?) still learning how to say more in fewer words. It proves yet again that often the most compelling plots are also the most elegant in design.