‘Butcher’s Crossing’ review: dangerous country | ET REALITY

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The west is a place of freedom and anarchy, of beauty and brutality and, when there is no escape, of endless stretches of God’s country where the mind can begin to fade.

Will (Fred Hechinger), a young Harvard dropout who wants to see more of the country, quickly learns this after setting out for the mountains of Colorado with a small group of buffalo hunters in the second half of the 19th century. Miller (Nicolas Cage), the group’s leader, takes Will under his wing as they search for a buffalo hide bounty. But soon enough, they find themselves battling the elements, and what was intended to be a week-long hunt will keep them through the winter.

It’s in this stretch, about halfway through, that the creeping dread that has run somewhat aimlessly through Gabe Polsky’s “Butcher’s Crossing” gives way to something more compelling: a psychological drama built around the rotten core of insatiable westward expansion of the period.

“We don’t belong here,” Fred (Jeremy Bobb), a contract worker, says darkly at one point. Not on this hunt, not in the Native American cemeteries where they have camped carelessly, not here on this land. Stubborn and rapacious, Miller keeps them there.

It’s a mostly well-crafted film with decent visual scope. The film’s biggest flaws are in Cage’s shaky character: Stroking his shaven head like a cowboy version of Marlon Brando’s Colonel Kurtz in “Apocalypse Now,” he’s a madman who the film half-positions as an avatar of American greed. . As fun as it may be to watch, Cage was the wrong actor to play a role that required a more subtle, time-worn performance. Hechinger, however, is superb, despite his underdeveloped protagonist. Naturally, he plays a young man who wants to truly get to know the country, but shudders at the bitter side he faces.

Butcher’s Crossing
Rated R for language, brief sexual content and some bloody violence. Duration: 1 hour 45 minutes. On cinemas.

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