Hostiles – this may be the hardest movie for me to review in some time. I was torn between given it an A and suggesting you see it now. That said I don’t think it will lose much if you have a really big screen TV and wait for home viewing.
It’s easy to say that Marty and I are pleased we went to see it – in some ways for different reasons. Marty loved the Cinematography of America’s West and the natural gritty feel of a classic Western. She thought Christian Bale carried this film and was strong throughout. She liked the female lead – Rosamund Pike – who we never heard of but did a really good job with her role as a wife and mother living in the later 1900’s that suffered yet survived her travails physically and emotionally. We both feel that not enough time and attention has been given to the strong, supportive women who “went west” and kept the family ranch or farm together. Kudos to a forgotten century of American Women!
Tony reminded me that there are similar themes in what I recall as one of – if not the best Western of the 21st Century – “The Unforgiven” – Clint Eastowood’s Masterpiece. Both were excellent but slowly paced in the development of their characters. Personally I was never bored and “Hostiles” kept my attention throughout. Not meaning to be crude but I believe this film may set a personal record for bladder discipline.
The theme of this film to me is the reality of battle hardened soldiers – from as far back as at least the 19th Century – who have taken life and seen life taken – as they near the end of their “expendable” life as soldiers. I hesitate to say that what we now call “PTSD” was the primary emotion of these men in America’s Western Cavalry. I suppose that since Cain slew Abel men who have taken life have wrestled with the consequences. A struggle that is immensely personal and complicated by the concept that “the enemy” was defined by the “powers that be” and the taking of life was “just following orders.” It may be easy for our liberal citizens and movie critics to minimize the depth of the personal emotion being felt and I thought expressed by Christian Bale and several of the supporting male actors in “Hostile.” My very strong personal feelings – and ones that I am now in Counseling for – are that you just can’t comprehend how it permeates your life having taken the lives of people that someone in Politics defined as your enemy.
All that said Marty and I recommend you see “Hostiles!” If you like Westerns and character development see it in the theater and pretend the popcorn was fresh and hot. If not, wait for home viewing but don’t miss it.