Robert Duvall, Kevin Costner, Annette Bening
| Directed By :
Open Range is every bit a classic western. It's all
about the attitude and the lifestyle and is almost biopic
in its depiction of life in the Old West. The story picks
up on Boss Spearman (Duvall) and Charley Waite (Costner) as
they drive cattle across the open range with two of their
friends. This is a time when the Wild West was trying to become
"civilized" and that leads to trouble for Boss and Charley.
They come across a small town that's practically owned by
an enterprising man named Denton Baxter (played by Michael
Gambon). Boss has become accustomed to letting his cattle
graze the land as he drives them, eventually selling them
at market. Baxter also has a herd, and wants Boss off the
local grazing land, although technically it's nobody's land
and Boss is within his rights. Baxter is used to getting his
way any way he has to, and his actions spur Boss into conflict
with the small town as the battleground.
This is a rather long movie (over two hours) and moreover,
it's not an action movie. I love action movies, but if you
want an action western, check out the excellent Tombstone.
This is more of a character drama, and it's charm is in it's
straightforwardness. I didn't read the novel the screenplay
was adapted from (and I recommend that no one ever read the
book before watching the movie), but the dialogue reflects
the setting. There are some wonderful speeches in the film
by Costner and Duvall, and they capture the equity of words
wonderfully. They never say more than they have to in order
to get their point across. Costner in particular plays the
strong, silent type to the hilt, and when he does speak he
has your full attention. His chemistry with Duvall drives
the movie, and the scenes with Bening capture that earnest
charm that remind us why he's done so well with romances.
The film moves slowly but inexorably towards the showdown
we know is coming. The characters gradually commit more to
their courses of action and by the end of the movie, the drama
and romance and action have all fully bloomed and are let
loose in a climactic confrontation. This film is not your
typical summer action movie, but it does fit very well into
the western genre. The sex and violence are very understated,
but no less real, and the final showdown is well worth waiting
for. Costner the director delivers a detailed depiction of
life in the Old West and everything that goes with it. It
might not be for everyone, but if you're a patient moviegoer
or even a slight fan of the genre, Open Range is a must see.
It's all in the details: Take note of Abraham Benrubi
in a nice supporting role. This guy used to be on ER,
and more importantly Parker Lewis Can't Lose. (Also
"Olaf the Troll" on Buffy) Man he's gotten big!