I don’t think we’re ever going to see a Western that’s not bleak again; it just wouldn’t be taken seriously. We’ve had an influx of de-romanticised frowny-face examples of America’s Favourite Genre over the last few years (this is my favourite for the record) but HOSTILES easily keeps apace. It has jaw-dropping scenery, nuanced characterisation and perhaps the most upsetting opening scene in the genre’s history. Aside from the misjudged BLACK MASS, I really rate actor-turned-director Scott Cooper’s work; he does atmosphere well and coaxes another intense, emotionally raw performance from Christian Bale and perhaps a career-best turn from Rosamund Pike. I’m not sure the stop-start-stop-start structure of this (already long) story – as the army escort changes party members at prearranged point in their journey – always works, but by the end of Hostiles you’ll really feel like you’ve been through the trials and tribulations of the characters. SSP
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Writer and film fanatic fond of black comedies, sci-fi, animation and films about dysfunctional families.
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