- John C. Reilly, a man many have settled in the comedy genre, but here he delivers an emotional sophisticated performance that is undeniable his best work to date. Reilly’s heartful performance is one that carries much weight to the film, as his character “Eli Sisters” is longing for something new. Joaquin Phoenix on the other hand continues to be a tour de force this year giving yet another fantastic performance to go along with his previous work this year in “You Were Never Really Here” and “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot”. Phoenix grounds his character in volatile actions and belligerent alcoholism, while as well bringing a live-wire presence to the role of “Charlie Sisters”. Together the two performances from Reilly and Phoenix bring brotherly bickering and a lived in chemistry that is riveting throughout. I will also add that the two supporting performances from Riz Ahmed and Jake Gyllenhaal both are great as well.
- The direction from Jacques Audiard is phenomenal. Audiard delivers a melancholic western that is a character study, but also looks at the unescapable darkness of greed and the lethality of dreams. While as well quite possibly earning the title of a masterpiece. Yes, we’ve seen greed explored in so many westerns before, but here Audiard meanders and zigs when you think he’s about to zag. As throughout the film you never can guess what’s to come next. He as well continues to bring stylized realism to yet another one of his films. He blends such natural emotion with such visual style that it shows why he’s one of the masters of cinema today.
- The screenplay by Jacques Audiard and Thomas Bidegain is fantastic. This film is a great example of characters over plot, as it presents multiple beautifully drawn characters. The film is as well a love story between two brothers that is surprisingly both genuine and tender. The screenplay also brings its own structure and pace which contains its own interesting rhythm as well. The screenwriting here is also a masterclass example of narrative concision, as it gives forth years of personal backstory for each character in such brief lines of dialogue. This film as well soaks in how anticlimactic it is, giving an ending that is both dreamlike and languid, that seems almost too good to be true.
- The cinematography by Benoît Debie is stellar. Debie captures the light from fire here brilliantly. Whether it be from a gun, campfire, or candle it brings a lot to the aesthetic of the film. Debie as well uses the mixing of cool and warm light in an extraordinary fashion. He lights one tavern in particular with a scorching yellow-orange beam of sunlight, then contrasts it with a very cool deep blue from inside the tavern. Which gives the film an interesting dreamlike visual awe.