Meek's Cutoff

Meek's Cutoff

The year is 1845, the earliest days of the Oregon Trail, and a wagon team of three families has hired the mountain man Stephen Meek to guide them over the Cascade Mountains. Claiming to know a short cut, Meek leads the group on an unmarked path across the high plain desert, only to become lost in the dry rock and sage. 3.8 out of 5 based on 14 reviews
Meek's Cutoff

Omniscore:

Certificate PG
Genre Drama
Director Kelly Reichardt
Cast Bruce Greenwood, Paul Dano Michelle Williams
Studio Soda Pictures
Release Date April 2011
Running Time 104 mins
 

The year is 1845, the earliest days of the Oregon Trail, and a wagon team of three families has hired the mountain man Stephen Meek to guide them over the Cascade Mountains. Claiming to know a short cut, Meek leads the group on an unmarked path across the high plain desert, only to become lost in the dry rock and sage.

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Reviews

Empire Magazine

Ian Freer

Reichardt eschews action and dialogue for a compelling look at the harsh realities of pioneer life and, unusually for the genre, focusses on women.

20/04/2011

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The Financial Times

Leo Robson

Delivers a patient, swoony account of itinerant tribulations in which conflict and intrigue bubble up only occasionally, and always gently.

13/04/2011

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The Guardian

Peter Bradshaw

This superbly made, austere film is Reichardt's best yet, certainly a huge advance on her previous work, Wendy and Lucy (2008) and a powerful new addition to the western genre.

14/04/2011

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The Independent on Sunday

Jonathan Romney

Soberly executed, flawlessly acted and designed with striking attention to period detail, Meek's Cutoff nevertheless moves me rather less than Reichardt's last two films. Where they were hypnotically suggestive, the message this time is stated rather flatly: white man speak without a clue. It's a fine film; John Ford would have detested it.

17/04/2011

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The New Statesman

Ryan Gilbey

Kelly Reichardt's film Meek's Cutoff offers a predominantly female slant on the western, maintaining close proximity to the genre while contravening each of its rules. We see weapons but no shoot-outs. Horses and wagons never get much above 2mph. There are stand-offs between two people, but there isn't even a town that's not big enough for the both of them, as the picture is set entirely on or near the Oregon Trail in 1845.

18/04/2011

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The New York Times

A. O. Scott

Ms. Reichardt is too wise and self-assured a filmmaker to offer easy answers. “Meek’s Cutoff” is as unsentimental and determined as Ms. Williams’s character, its absolutely believable heroine. It is also a bracingly original foray into territory that remains, in every sense, unsettled.

07/04/2011

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The Observer

Phillip French

it isn't the kind of movie hardcore western fans would wish to see every month. But it enlivens and illuminates a genre that once dominated the American cinema and still holds a considerable grip on our imagination... The actors inhabit their roles with total conviction, and the picture creates its own sense of time and space. There are unforgettable moments...

17/04/2011

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Time Out

Tom Huddleston

The result is bold, unrelenting and wilfully oblique, perhaps to a fault: Reichardt’s refusal to provide easy solutions may be thematically appropriate, but it can be alienating. Nonetheless, ‘Meek’s Cutoff’ is one of 2011’s singular cinematic experiences: subtle, simple and devastating. Saddle up.

14/04/2011

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The Times

Kate Muir

Think Little House on the Prairie does Kafka, and you are coming close to the enigmatic brilliance of Meek’s Cutoff. This is the western domesticated, stripped bare to reveal the sluggardly drudgery of a woman’s life as a pioneer in 1845.

15/04/2011

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The Sunday Times

Edward Porter

The film’s realism as a picture of life on the frontier in 1845 was the main attraction for me, but its story of uncertainty, fear and fraying relationships is absorbing in its own right.

17/04/2011

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Total Film

Philip Kemp

With its mythic, dreamlike atmosphere, hints of feminism and a subversive touch of political allegory, Meek’s Cutoff is a bold new take on the Old West.

28/03/2011

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The New Yorker

David Denby

Reichardt is trying for a mood of existential objectivity. She takes us from the florid grandiosity of Western myth to the bone-wearying stress of mere life. The movie offers a new kind of feminist and materialist realism.

11/04/2011

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The Daily Telegraph

Sukhdev Sandhu

The script is written by Jon Raymond, whose short stories formed the basis of Reichardt’s last two films. He isn’t able to give a talented cast that includes Paul Dano, Shirley Henderson and Zoe Kazan much to do. The purposefully irresolute ending will probably frustrate some, who may view its ambiguity and deferrals as evidence of the director’s gift for texture over narrative, for ambience over argument.

14/04/2011

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The Independent

Anthony Quinn

Michelle Williams, star of Reichardt's Wendy and Lucy, leads a strong cast on this long footslog to nowhere, with Jeff Grace's keening score a wonderfully austere accompaniment.

15/04/2011

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