Appaloosa (2008)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Appaloosa</strong> (2008)

(In theaters, October 2008) This is an old-fashioned western drama with all the usual fixings (trains, horses, six-shooters, saloons, hats, villains, Indians, Mexicans and so on) and little in terms of radical genre re-interpretation. It’s basically a tragic buddy-movie, or what happens when a woman comes in-between them. The dialogue is clipped and folksy, the tough guys remain tough guys, and the bad people get killed. There’s enough here to please both the traditionalists and those who think that westerns are a fertile ground for slash fiction. Alas, there’s a limit to the enjoyment such pictures can create, and Appaloosa remains too well-mannered and too conventional to take chances. Ed Harris’ direction in generally unremarkable, while the short growled lines of dialogue can be hard to understand without subtitles. The two female characters are plot devices, which also goes to the film’s villains and allies: only the two protagonists are really worth considering. In a way, charming throwbacks to classic westerns are nowadays unusual enough to be interesting, but there’s a good reason why they don’t make as many westerns as they used to: the genre’s palette is limited, and it doesn’t take much to touch upon all the essential points if you’re coloring inside the lines.

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