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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Open Range

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Judy Thorburn

Open Range

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Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

KEVIN COSTNER IS HOME ON THE “OPEN RANGE”

Welcome back Kevin Costner.  Open Range is just the movie you needed, after a long series of flops, like Waterworld and The Postman, to get yourself back in the limelight. Your movie star shine has been fading, and it’s been a very long time since your Academy Award winning Dances With Wolves.  But, you got it right this time, as Open Range proves to be a rewarding and compelling piece of cinema.  It’s nice to see you’ve done a great job as producer, director and star in a genre that you are, obviously, comfortable with.

In a summer of mostly sophomoric comedies, remakes, and sequels, Open Range stands out in a category that has been slowing disappearing from movie screens, the old fashioned western drama.

Open Range opens with a spectacular panoramic view of the sprawling high plains in the Old West (but actually filmed in Alberta, Canada). Overlooking the valley, from a mountaintop, are Charley Waite (Kevin Costner) and Boss Spearman (Robert Duval) partners in herding cattle for over ten years. As tired old cowboys who have roamed the land long enough without roots or a steady roof over their heads, they are ripe for to a chance to settle down. When supplies run short in their camp, they send one of their two hired hands, gentle giant Mose (Abraham Benrubi), down to the nearby town of Harmonville.  But, when time passes and he doesn’t return, they set out to see what happened, only to find out Mose had been beaten in a fight and put in jail.  Seems like most of the town and it’s Sheriff (James Russo) are controlled by an evil Irish immigrant rancher, Denton Baxter (a perfectly sinister, Michael Gambon) who has a severe hatred for “free grazers” on his land.  Charley and Boss aren’t looking for trouble. But, when it looks them in the eye, these veteran gunslingers are apt to face it on and not back off.  You just don’t mess with a man’s compadres or his other best friend, his loyal dog.  Because, if you do, there is hell to pay.  Remember, this IS a western, and as such, you can expect the build up of tension that results in the inevitable showdown where a major gunfight occurs between the bad guys and the heroes. Costner, as director comes through and delivers a bloody, well orchestrated shootout that is action packed. Fans of this genre will not be disappointed.

The fine cast of supporting performances also includes Annette Bening, in a different type of role for her, as Sue Barlow, spinster sister of the local doctor (Dean McDermott). When Mose and the other “adopted” younger hired hand, Button (Diego Luna) needs medical attention, her home becomes the place for care and sanctuary. Bening is the romantic interest, a never married older woman, who was waiting for the right man to eventually come along, and she plays her with quiet strength and dignity. For Charley, it’s love at first sight with the “handsomest woman he ever saw”.  No steamy romantic scenes in this movie. Their relationship is one of a mature, adult nature that is evoked through glances and implied sense of knowing. Michael Jeter, who died shortly after completing his role, is memorable as the town’s quirky stable owner who becomes a helpful ally.

But, ultimately this movie belongs to Kevin Costner. He’s made an authentic western, one that even long gone director of that genre, John Ford, might have seen fit to praise. Slowly paced, the story enfolds as a tribute to the long gone cattle herders, a breed of men that slowly died out as the old frontier made way to growing towns and the new west. Costner has never been better, fitting comfortably into the persona of the “spittin” cowboy with a compassionate soul, yet one who possesses the ability to kill without remorse, as a result of his Civil War past. He is only outmatched by master thespian Robert Duval, an actor so natural and believable in yet another Oscar worthy performance.

Many critics will undoubtedly compare this film to Unforgiven, Clint Eastwood’s Oscar Winning Best Picture of 1992.  But, his was a dark Old West tale that I found gloomy and overrated, even with its impressive performances by Eastwood and Gene Hackman.  Costner’s love for westerns, the land, and animals shines through in Open Range.  It is beautifully filmed, well acted, and has all the goodies you would expect from a classic western, with some light humor added to the mix. There are the gritty cowboys, a corrupt lawman, realistic gunfight plus a low-key romance within a satisfying tale, that when you get down to it, is about revenge, redemption, honor and respect.  What more can you ask for?

At over two hours long, Open Range is worth the time. Kevin Costner deserves raves for a well-earned return. I am glad to see he’s back in the saddle, in more ways than one.