For generations, all that distinguished Eagle Pass, TX, from Piedras Negras, MX, was the Rio Grande. But when darkness descends upon these harmonious border towns, a cowboy and lawman face a new reality that threatens their way of life.
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★★★★½ review by kylepsmith on Letterboxd
I should write either nothing on this film or pages. If you're willing to give yourself into it, it's like watching one of the modern Terrence Malick films: an overwhelming run of images, beautifully observed and natural.
WESTERN tries to tell a linear story, and I think if you're willing to buy the film's implicit suggestion that "western" tropes are impossible and the reality of a desolate frontier life in 2010-11 (when the film was shot) is politicking and waiting for cattle to be shipped, then the anti-climactic second half is justified.
★★★½ review by Josiah Morgan on Letterboxd
I love the gradual crawl of American commodity in Western, the natural way formalist shots regress into a hazy mess as locked down shots suddenly become handheld, I love the crazed dichotomy of two very distinctly opposed shooting methods handling a fervid war between two towns, the juxtaposition between two languages, I love the way light spills into a young girls bedroom in the morning as she's ensconced in shadow, as equally as I love the way human developments light up the night sky. I love that this is a film about both metaphoric and literal borders, things that separate people... instead of forming a narrative around this, the Ross brothers frame and edit everything so as to create literal visual borders (the poster is a fine example of this, although it's nowhere near as impressive as most shots over the runtime). Most of all, I love the idea of a place I've never been to and will probably never go.
★★★★★ review by FilmApe on Letterboxd
Once again the Ross brothers successfully infiltrate a region of America, and capture people simply existing, for our viewing pleasure. There is no hand holding in a Ross brothers film, and because of this, their films are fully immersive experiences. With Western, you get to spend time on a border town in Texas, that seems to be wonderfully unaffected by the tension and controversy that comes with being a town on the US/Mexico border. The mayor of the town is loved on both sides of the border, and the rancher is able to freely move cows between countries, as his family has been doing for a century. Western chronicles the months when the unfortunate reality of the US/Mexico border comes to town, with borders being closed, people getting killed, and fences getting built. The Ross brothers chronicle all this in their usual low key, yet gorgeous film-making style, and Western is easily one of the best movies of 2015.
★★★★ review by Brian Scofield on Letterboxd
A meditative, moody doc that captures the ethos of a border town as well as any film in memory. The familiarity with the subject matter may have ironically kept me a bit distant from the film, but I appreciate the way these guys are able to tell such a strong story purely by grounding themselves in a time and place.
★★★★½ review by Richard Gubbels on Letterboxd
A beautiful and intimate documentary about a border town and the violence that is surging its way.
What struck me most about this film, other than the incredible beauty of the camera work itself, was that it never once felt like I was being manipulated. Its as honest a depiction of life as I have ever seen.
The characters are simple, and they speak for themselves. The looming danger of cartel violence is all the tension that is needed and the lack of a real storyline goes unnoticed as you slowly become immersed in the sights and sounds of this world, only to slip away in the end...
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