AroView: Another small scale triumph from director Kelly Reichardt, here miniaturizing the experience of early American settlers making the treacherous journey along the Oregon Trail under the guidance of a suspect mountain scout.
The closest the genre has come to resembling an ‘art film’, Reichardt’s approach to illuminating the pre-history of the American West is to focus on the intimate, unseen details (often, from the woman’s perspective) of human survival and endeavor, offering a largely non-narrative portrait of not Cowboys and Indians, but simply people of the era existing, albeit in trying circumstances. Though the patience of the storytelling will frustrate traditional movie palettes, the sensitive marriage of sound and image, and the very real ordeal of the performers, make this an utterly engrossing and distinctive ‘western’, for want of a better term.
“Working on a richer and more intricate canvas than she’s previously attempted, Kelly Reichardt has pulled off a rare thing with Meek’s Cutoff – a low-budget period Western with a bracing feminist spin”. ~ Justin Chang, Variety.