Oregon, 1845. Three families guided along the Oregon Trail by itinerant tracker Meek (Bruce Greenwood). Soon they are in hostile country and forced to deal with the brutal realities of the frontier.
Reuniting director Kelly Reichardt and star Michelle Williams after 2008’s Wendy And Lucy, Meek’s Cutoff is an epic Western filtered through an indie prism. Three families are led through the Cascade mountains by itinerant tracker Meek (Bruce Greenwood), whose shortcut leads them into arid, Native American country — yet Reichardt eschews action and dialogue for a compelling look at the harsh realities of pioneer life and, unusually for the genre, focusses on women. Williams gives the film true grit as the group’s moral centre as she fights for the rights of a captured Native American, while the TV-style 1.33 format makes the characters, rather than the landscape, the centre. Slow but absorbing, it yields rewarding results.
This impressionist Western won't be everyone's slug of bourbon but it's a slow burn that will richly reward the patient.