Open Range (2003)

(On DVD, January 2017) I don’t normally have much patience for westerns that last two hours and a half, and there’s no denying that Open Range could have benefited from a more aggressive editing pace. Still, this is a Kevin Costner western, and after Dances with Wolves and The Postman, we all know what that means: Expansive vistas, rough-hewn charisma from its stoic hero, tepid pacing and melodramatic filmmaking. Open Range is in-line with his earlier work: good without being perfect, with enough old-fashioned charm that should appeal to an older audience. Costner gets to play his own archetype, but the film’s standout role has to be the “Boss” played by Robert Duvall: the saving grace of the film’s 139 minutes is having the chance to hear Duvall crunch down on folksy tough dialogue, the kind of which we easily could have used fifteen more minutes. Otherwise, there’s a refreshing realism to the way the story evolves, with casual violence when necessary, an unforgiving environment and tough guys trying to keep what’s theirs. There’s even a grown-up romance thrown in the mix, and it doesn’t feel too out-of-place. Open Range may not sound particularly exciting on paper (or in the middle of the two hours and a half), but some of its moments stand out, including a gritty gunfight where we can honestly fear for at least one character. Not a bad choice, not a bad western.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *