Meek’s Cutoff (2010) – Film Review
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Cast: Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Bruce Greenwood
by Joss Spry
Michelle Williams heads an impressive, though sometimes underused, cast in Reichardt’s follow up to her acclaimed Wendy and Lucy.
Set in 1845, Meek’s Cutoff concerns a party of settlers following the Oregon Trail though the Cascade Mountains. Williams plays Emily Tetherow, who comes into conflict with their guide, Stephen Meek (Greenwood) after his ill-judged shortcut goes awry. Hunger, thirst and fear begin to take their toll on the unity of the little group.
“Lack of conventional action”
Despite it’s setting, Meek’s Cutoff is hardly a traditional western. The staples of the genre, from the astonishing landscapes to the settler’s fear and mistrust of the Native Americans, are present but the film’s sensibilities are strictly arthouse.
Nevertheless, if you can endure the creeping pace of the narrative and the lack of conventional action you may find your patience rewarded with a rich and haunting experience.
On the other hand, you may simply find yourself longing for a good old fashioned gun-fight.