Monday, September 05, 2016

Hell Or High Water

Brad Wheeler (staff writer for Toronto's national newspaper (The Gloat & Wail)) dubs Hell Or High Water "the Coen Brothers for squares" -- a summary judgment I can in no way wrap my head around.
"I'm a brother, you're a brother..."
I enjoyed the flick, and apparently so did Wheeler ("maybe the best middle-of-the-seat drama of the summer") so I assume his tongue is somewhat planted in cheek. The reflexive referral to the Coens, however, is baffling.

The plot hinges on acts generated partially by human cunning, and partially by human brute stupidity -- by movie's end sheer dumb luck factors into the success or failure of the chief protagonists. You could say these are characteristics of Coen plots, but these are characteristics of most plots. Set Pride & Prejudice in Texas and cast Jeff Bridges as Mr. Bennett and perhaps this, too, would qualify as "Coen Brothers for squares."*

Still, I'm glad Wheeler made the comparison. There is indeed a familiar quality to the proceedings, and I was puzzling over it for quite some time after the lights had come back up. The movie is heavy on dialogue, and has a patter and rhythm that I associate with another Texan: Larry McMurtry. I'd put the script, by Taylor Sheridan, in league with McMurtry in his late-prime -- post-Lonesome Dove, basically. The only thing missing is an exceedingly strong female lead, to throw the inner narratives of the four male protagonists into utter disarray.

"Middle-of-the-seat drama" is a judgement I will second. Hell Or High Water is entertainment adults can enjoy, and well worth the various impertinences risked when taking a night at the cinema.

*"Coens 4 Squares" -- seems to better fit the first two seasons of Fox's Fargo, no?

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