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Open Range /

Rated: R

Starring: Kevin Costner, Annette Bening, Abraham Benrubi, Robert Duvall, Michael Gambon
Directed by: Kevin Costner
Produced by: Kevin Costner, David Valdes, Craig Storper

Written by: Craig Storper, Lauran Paine

Distributor: Touchtone Pictures


“Men are going to get killed here today, and I am going to kill them." 

     Open Range is your classic western. It’s the same as every other movie in its genre. Although it introduces us to new characters in a new location, the ending and plot are as predictable and clichéd as they come. But strangely, in every film of this nature, these very crucial parts of the flick always manage to strike us as being very fresh and new, even though they aren’t anything special. We’re always rooting for the “good guys,” and are constantly worried that they will lose to the “bad guys,” who both outnumber and outplan them. The very reason why we feel the way we do is because the given western nails the basics—it has sharp acting, top-notch direction, and writing that never bores us. Thanks to the fact that it is so skillfully made, Open Range always holds our attention and interest, and this allows us to see what a beautiful motion picture it is.

     While this may not be a great achievement for Kevin Costner the actor, it’s a miraculous one for Kevin Costner the director. We should be thankful for this, too. With an all-star cast, including Robert Duvall, Annette Bening, and Diego Luna, all Costner really had to do performance-wise, was be subtle. He accomplishes this. Behind the camera, his work is flowing, not just subtle, though. Costner obviously had the perfect vision for the look of Open Range, when shooting it. Every frame of this film looks strikingly beautiful; I haven’t seen one other release this year that is this pleasing to gaze at, even those that use whopping amounts of CGI, like Terminator 3. Luckily, Open Range isn’t just eye-candy; it balances visuals and true substance quite well. I was pleasantly surprised by how well it actually works.

     If there’s one giant standout in Open Range, it’s Robert Duvall. His performance is pitch-perfect, and definitely worth a supporting actor nomination from the Academy. Duvall ranges from being serious and stern to funny and sarcastic to caring and sympathetic to old and wise, in his role, and is usually amazing in doing so. As an actor, he’s just as good now, as he was thirty years ago (even though I still believe that his biggest accomplishment was his work his debut in To Kill a Mockingbird). He balances all of the emotions of his character nicely in Open Range, and should be remembered for this performance. It really does tie the entire movie together.

     Even though there are so many tremendous features in Open Range that are appreciable, the set design, by Mary-Lou Storey is my favorite. It enhances the wonderful way that Costner photographs the film, more than anything else. I can’t quite put a finger on why I was so elated when viewing the beautifully done sets—but one thing’s for sure—they’re absolutely incredible. Another pleasing feature worth mentioning is the art direction, by Gary Myers, which is yet another thing that Open Range deserves to win an Oscar for.

     The R-rating that’s been given to this film is just more proof that the MPAA is an idiotic and clueless bunch of people. Since when is an old-west gun-fight inappropriate for children under seventeen? I’ve seen games of “Cowboys and Indians” and “Cops and Robbers,” played by toddlers, that have been more bloody and harsh than the “very violent” content in Open Range. Episodes of “SpongeBob Squarepants” have contained worse material than what’s in this movie.

     It’s a bit too long, and the last ten minutes are considerably sterile, but Open Range is still easily one of the best movies of the year. Duvall gives a great performance and Costner directs to near perfection. It’s a wonderfully entertaining and stunningly well-made film. The ten dollar ticket and the seven dollar popcorn are definitely worth buying, for this flick offers a superb night at the local cinema. One of the summer’s treasures, Open Range is certainly a movie to see.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews


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