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TIFF Review: Hostiles – “Gorgeous”

 A U.S. Calvary Captain on the verge of retiring escorts a Cheyenne Chief and his family back to Montana.

After her husband and children are slaughtered by a band of Native Americans, a distraught settler (Rosamund Pike) joins veteran U.S. Calvary Captain Blocker (Christian Bale) as he takes Chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) and his family back to their tribal lands under presidential orders. Fatal threats are encountered along the way including Comanches, fur traders, U.S. Army prisoner and a rancher which forces Blocker to re-evaluate his views towards the world around him.

Gunfights, knifings, and killings punctuate the slow burn established by filmmaker Scott Cooper as he focuses on the journey which transforms Blocker from being vengeful to empathetic to the cause of the Native Americans.  The landscape may be beautiful but the human occupants are vile and vicious with no qualms about raping and murder.  Not everything is graphic as some violent scenes happen off camera or are obscured from view.

Full credit goes to the performances of Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike and Wes Studi who are immersed in their roles which adds to the believability of the emotional turmoil experienced by the characters.  Scott Cooper rightly lets the cast be the centre of attention by having shots linger and allowing breathing room between scenes.  The cinematography is gorgeous and the production design feels authentic to the setting of 1892.

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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