Meek's Cutoff (PG)

Directed by Kelly Reichardt
Written by Jon Raymond
Screening at FACT from 15th April 2011

Reviewed by Michelle McKay

Meek's Cutoff is based on true events (see wikipedia link below) and tells the story of a group of pioneers on the Oregon Trail across America in 1845. The protagonist of the title is 'mountain man' Stephen Meek who knows a shortcut (or cutoff) over the Cascade Mountains. However things don't go according to plan and the families are at the mercy of the elements, and a man who is meek by name but not by nature.

The film is beautifully shot and meticulous in attention to period detail, and like any good western has an enigmatic, native american presence. It encapsulates the prejudices and attitudes that were prevalent at the time (and still are in some places) and Michelle Williams character embodies women over the centuries who dare to question patriarchal dominance. Scottish actress Shirley Henderson is also another familiar face to British audiences.

The ending is unexpected and leaves the viewer to draw their own conclusions. Like a pregnancy that has a few days to go, just when you think the denouement of events are about to unfold...well I guess that's another kind of meek cutoff!

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