Frontier Strife

Don’t expect sullen lawmen pistol-whipping horse thieves or renegade Indians attacking wagon trains in Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff. “It’s not a shoot-’em-up type of movie,” explains Robert Rosenberg, director of the Coral Gables Art Cinema, where the critically acclaimed picture is making its Magic City debut. Instead, the Miami-born indie auteur’s genre-busting Western follows a small band of settlers in 1845 attempting to cross the Oregon High Desert with a suspect guide. The increasingly suspicious pioneers begin to lose faith in Stephen Meek, their guide, as the two-week journey through the desolate landscape becomes a monthlong trek with no end in sight. With water and supplies dwindling, tensions rise. Soon the settlers capture a lone Indian in the hopes he will lead them to water instead of an ambush. While the husbands argue about what to do next, the story unfolds through the eyes of their wives, left wondering how much longer they can survive. “It does feature cowboys and Indians, but it is a postmodern Western where the harsh terrain also becomes a character in the piece,” Rosenberg says, adding that “this is truly a beautiful and lyrical film.” The movie stars Oscar-nominated Michelle Williams and was a selection of the Venice, Toronto, and Sundance film festivals.
Mon., May 30, 8:45 p.m., 2011

 
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