Now On Blu-ray: SWEETWATER, A Mixed Bag Of Violent Acts
Bill Graham wrote about Sweetwater when it played at Dallas IFF this year. He wrote in part: "Violent and dark, this feels like a William Friedkin-esque attempt at a Western set in the New Mexico territory around the 1800s. There are rare spurts of humor and most of it is from the way that people are dispatched without hesitation by the mostly straight-faced cast. ... Those moments of levity, though, aren't often enough to elevate the film beyond anything more than a forgettable piece of entertainment."
I watched the film this weekend preparing for its release and I feel it is a mixed bag of violent acts begetting more violent acts that never really hits its mark. Though everything in the story moves along in due accordance to bring about its bloody conclusion, Sweetwater still somehow feels aimless and without purpose, other than to be violent after gestating on suppressed hatred for most of its run time.
Jason Isaacs is fine as the zealous leader of his small religious sect. Ed Harris is the most brazen thing in this film, a lawman sent to locate two missing men, who rubs anyone he comes in contact with, raw with irritation. Both men are similar in the way that they both think they are justified by their actions, one by God and the other by the Law. January Jones is the titular heroine exacting out bloody revenge through the barrel of her pistol. However, you never get the feeling that she is in any great peril though. You do not feel scared for her, that she might not succeed in her quest for revenge. If these three characters story lines had perhaps intersected earlier in the film then perhaps there would have been an opportunity for stronger character development. Alas, we are left with but caricatures on the screen.
It has all the grit of superfine sand paper in the end. It feels very much like it wants to be shocking and provocative but is afraid of the consequences of doing so, so it reels back, and in doing so does not give the viewer enough provocation to engage and left simply to observe its inevitable outcome. And it is an ambivalent outcome with no consequences of its own might I add.
There just is not enough gravitas behind the intent.