Best of… Series – 2010 – Meek’s Cutoff

Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt, 2010)

One day during the summer I went for a run in the country. I thought I knew where I was going, but after I’d been running for a while I knew I was lost. It was 90+ degrees and I desperately needed water. Every time I rounded a bend or topped a hill, I was disappointed to see I still had no idea where I was. I had a choice to make. I could either turn around and follow the path back the way I came (even though I was already miles out), or I could continue and hope I’d finally reach my destination.

That’s what Meek’s Cutoff is – a group of pioneers lost, desperate, and confused, following a man they do not know and have grown to not trust. They’re suffocating, and despite the film’s setting being the wide open land, the 4:3 aspect ratio the film was shot in actually makes the film feel claustrophobic. Every time they make a decision they hope will be to their benefit, they fall deeper into a whirlwind of confusion and fear. It is amazing the tension Reichardt is able to create with such a minimalistic approach. And as the tension heightens and we, as viewers, really feel a need for some resolution – a chance to finally exhale – we become stuck in the same abyss the characters are in. And yes, it’s frightening.  9.25/10

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