Meek's Cutoff: movie review
Hard-driving pioneers, heading across the bleak Pacific Northwest, veer dangerously off course in 'Meek's Cutoff.'
Kelly Reichardt’s “Meek’s Cutoff,” set in 1845, is about three families headed West in covered wagons. You feel every inch of the trail. Reichardt has a documentarian’s eye – the spacious bleakness of the Pacific Northwest is impressively rendered. She also has an avant-garde fondness for moody nothingness, for scenes that dwindle away in real time.
For a movie about hard-driving pioneers, there is nevertheless much existential ennui in the air. The large and mostly impressive cast includes Bruce Greenwood as Stephen Meek, the real-life Indian-hating mountain-man guide who veers the wagon train dangerously off course, and Michelle Williams, as a young wife who stands up for a captured scout from the Cayuse tribe (Rod Rondeaux, impressively enigmatic).
Williams also starred in Reichardt’s last, and best, film, “Wendy and Lucy,” and she clearly has a special affinity for the director, for whom she shows off her subtlest shades. Grade: B (Rated PG for some mild violent content, brief language, and smoking.)