Sunday, June 03, 2007

Seraphim Falls: Grade A


Seraphim Falls (2006)

Pierce Brosnan, Liam Neeson; Anjelica Huston. Director and co-writer: David von Ancken.

Set right after the U.S. Civil war (1867 or so), a grizzled cowboy in a black hat, ex-Confederate soldier, pursues another grizzled cowboy in a black hat, ex-Union soldier, through the beautiful landscape of New Mexico, from the snowy, pine-forested mountains to a desert basin devoid of vegetation. Motive: revenge. As we learn in a series of flashback dreams, Union soldier Brosnan had ordered Neeson’s house burned down, killing his wife and son, even though the war was over. Apparently, Brosnan did not get that memo. As a revenge movie, it is very well written, photographed, acted, and directed. Clint Eastwood’s spaghetti westerns are referenced in the fine cinematography. I noticed no anachronisms. The music is excellent. Neeson and his gang hunt the wounded, staggering, bleeding, and freezing or desiccated Brosnan. But Brosnan evens the odds by using his wits against one pursuer at a time. The motivational story is not well-told (why did Brosnan do it?), and likewise the ending is unclear. I can’t give my interpretation without spoiling it. But this is not supposed to be a character movie. It’s all about the chase, which is excellently rendered. Neeson, usually wooden, is convincing in a taciturn part. And Brosnan, well, if you’ve seen Matador, you know the the cork is out of the bottle on him: he really can act. This is a strong A for the western genre.

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