Tuesday, May 25, 2010
This movie surprised me as well. I thought Sam Elliot reached a very sincere and real portrayal of his character. The movie was rented for the Mrs. a big Sam Elliot fan, but Sam was far from his cowboy dapper ways and in the end it was well worth the time to see this actor step outside the box and deliver a knockout performance.
Despite all of that the real star of this movie is Valentina de Angelis as the movie uses her as the pre-teen vehicle in which to observe and comment on her rather extraordinary circumstances. Joan Allen delivers another strong performance and the setting of Taos New Mexico stars as well.
This movie is not lighthearted in fact it's down right desperate but through it all and if you stay with it amusing, thoughtful, and potently fulfilling. I'm guessing but it seems the director wants to take you to an uncomfortable spot in dealing with Sam Elliot's character but manages to pull you out in time before you go slit your wrists. You have never seen Sam like this before and that has a doubling impact in coordination with his performance.
J.K. Simmons provides some comic relief from a very understated but nonetheless moving role. But the scene stealer, lightness and real relief comes from Valentina de Angelis's role. It's not all magic fairy dust as she has her own ups and downs but her role and acting is deft, and charming to say the least.
An unknown actor to me Jim True-Frost crashes the sanctuary that is off the grid and acts as the real world vector into their idealistic and Utopian surroundings. His character is another vehicle for the viewer to process, and his characters role and transformation is just as dynamic. A story of survival this movie delivers, has some surprising turns, doesn't get swallowed up in the melodramatic and in the end is actually very, very inspiring.
Four stars for stark honesty, depth, beauty, and realizing that the essential ingredient in a beautiful painting, in a beautiful life, in a beautiful world is that very same stark honesty to oneself and each other in the face of it all.