Oscilloscope Pictures | Release Date: April 8, 2011
6.3
USER SCORE
Generally favorable reviews based on 67 Ratings
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Positive:
37
Mixed:
15
Negative:
15
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9
2GUI2Aug 22, 2011
When something visually stunning is ignored, sometimes, in the movies, there is a feeling of disappointment and neglect that can distance the film right away from its viewer. But when, in a movie, every aspect and detail of beauty isWhen something visually stunning is ignored, sometimes, in the movies, there is a feeling of disappointment and neglect that can distance the film right away from its viewer. But when, in a movie, every aspect and detail of beauty is carefully shown and appreciated, very much like in "Meek's Cutoff", we, the viewers, feel a warmth and desire to enter the picture and interact with all the little pieces that make it so great. Fortunately, in Kelly Reichardt's marvelous, minimalist epic film, those little pieces are spread through the screen and include both the characters and plot of the film as well as the insignificant but important surroundings of it. "Meek's Cutoff" is above everything an experience with the power of observation, managed so masterly and convincingly that you won't turn your eyes away. Expand
2 of 2 users found this helpful20
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9
Knative07Nov 26, 2011
It felt very realistic. The settlers basically walk around the desert for most of the movie, kidnap an Indian, and run out of water. There is little violence, no sex, and the most exciting thing that happens is that the settler's wagonsIt felt very realistic. The settlers basically walk around the desert for most of the movie, kidnap an Indian, and run out of water. There is little violence, no sex, and the most exciting thing that happens is that the settler's wagons needed to be lowered down a steep hill. Surprisingly though, I was not bored at all. It was wonderfully directed. Very beautiful movie. The acting was great. I liked the Indian the best and Meek was a total boob, however, there was this one woman, and she was forever freaking out. wanted to punch her. The score was great too. I liked it a lot. Expand
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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9
UmmDec 20, 2011
I really enjoyed this movie and felt obligated to post a review to help its score a bit. It's beautifully shot, acted, and full of subtleties. I highly recommend it. There is a real sense of dread and terror. The director doesn't spoon feedI really enjoyed this movie and felt obligated to post a review to help its score a bit. It's beautifully shot, acted, and full of subtleties. I highly recommend it. There is a real sense of dread and terror. The director doesn't spoon feed the audience anything, or show his hand. Which makes it all the more nerve-wracking (in a very good way). Few movies can create such a natural sense of unease without relying on shock-factor tricks. It's shocking to me how people think that a movie they don't like is some kind of scam or ploy by filmmakers and critics. Sad. Expand
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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8
ZackLemcheckAug 11, 2011
In the name of all that's holy, let's never put any demands on the audience. If we did they might have to do some serious thinking about character dynamics, racial attitudes in the 19th century, trust and distrust of authority figures, theIn the name of all that's holy, let's never put any demands on the audience. If we did they might have to do some serious thinking about character dynamics, racial attitudes in the 19th century, trust and distrust of authority figures, the influence of landscapes in films, all sorts of stuff. Before you know it, you've got elitism.... the opposite of which, I guess, is the great common touch of mindlessness. Expand
5 of 6 users found this helpful51
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10
BethApr 8, 2011
At the Upper Westside movie theater we attended tonight the mostly middle aged and older viewers actually hooted when the movie ended. All of us had read the laudatory review in the New York Times, but it was clear that nobody agreed with it.
2 of 4 users found this helpful22
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8
SpangleApr 27, 2017
If you thought you had found the boringest film of all-time and have not seen Meek's Cutoff, you are painfully misguided. Directed by Kelly Reichardt, Meek's Cutoff probably has a script that had to have, maybe, five pages of dialogue. OverIf you thought you had found the boringest film of all-time and have not seen Meek's Cutoff, you are painfully misguided. Directed by Kelly Reichardt, Meek's Cutoff probably has a script that had to have, maybe, five pages of dialogue. Over its 100 minute runtime, Meek's Cutoff shows a group of people slowly walking to Oregon and trying to find drinkable water. The group of families take their cues from Stephen Meek (Bruce Greenwood), who hired to guide them through the journey. However, they encounter a Cayuse indian (Rod Rondeaux) and begin to follow him after taking him prisoner. Distrusting of the Indian, Meek wants to kill him. However, the group led by Emily Tetherow (Michelle Williams) want to follow the Indian and see if he can bring them to the water. Absolutely one of the most beautiful films in recent memory, Meek's Cutoff may be impeccably dull but Reichardt has a knack for eye candy and her themes are quite resonant with today's times.

Throughout the film, Reichardt's camera just could not care less about showing its characters. Instead, it just floats over the terrain and captures the harsh terrain that this group of frontierspeople must traverse. A mix of greens and a lot of dirty browns, the scenery is gorgeous but quite standard. Reichardt's camera finds its greatest achievements in a few shots. One, two separate shots at night. One has a gorgeous orange/blue sky with clouds moving in the sky. With the backlighting, a silhouette of the camp set up by the people is created and is absolutely breathttaking. The other similar shot comes as they are still walking with the sun setting in the background. Similarly relying upon a silhouette, these shots are pure eye candy, but certainly have a possible thematic impact. Choosing to utilize them in the camp and as they walk, Reichardt shows that the identities of the people is entirely irrelevant. Their journey is one that thousands made west and nothing is particularly special about these people. Their long, arduous journey is one that is both brutal, but well-trodden. Stylistically, it is also quite common in this film with a lot of shots at nights also utilizing unique lighting techniques, such as candlelight. One such scene where the group begins to believe the Indian is leaving behind signals for his tribe is largely at night with just intermittent candlelight. Obscuring everything and casting darkness everywhere, it is impossible to tell what is going on and who is saying what, only exacerbating the tension of the moment.

However, the second major shot utilized by Reichardt comes at the very beginning. Showing the group walking with their wagons and animals in the foreground, Reichardt uses a very slow dissolve. Initially showing the ground behind them as the group walks behind them, Reichardt highlights the last time they will see drinkable water for the rest of the film as they walk away. Slowly dissolving to remove the water and slowly introducing the group walking along the horizon in the background, there is a brief moment where the two shots are overlaid entirely. Creating the brief belief that a group is right behind this one before it is realized that it is just the same group walking in a different area, Reichardt continues on the theme she touches on in the aforementioned shots. Story-wise, though the film is quite limited, its themes are potentially the most relevant to this time period. While its cinematography highlights the length and harshness of the journey, as well as highlighting just how common this journey was, its focus on who to trust really hits on the current political climate. The Cayouse Indian is given no amount of trust by men such as Stephen Meek. Arguing that his kind are savages who have cut the eyelids off of men before burying them in the sand and making them stare at the sun, Meek believes that the Indian should be killed. They are savages and, even worse, they are stupid. They have no understanding of English and do not even know what "water" is, so how could this idiot be of any use to them? Millie (Zoe Kazan) certainly agrees as she becomes slowly obsessed with the belief that the images the Indian draws on the rocks as they walk is clearly some sign for his tribe to find him. Even his greatest supporter Emily finds him more than a little gross to the touch and does not trust him very much. Yet, Meek has proven himself to be a faulty leader. The group nearly decided to hang him before they found the Indian and even vetoed his decision on where they should walk to find water, opting to go North instead of South. By the time the Indian shows up, they follow the Indian without question and ignore Meek's barking about how the Indian is nothing but a savage who will kill them all.
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0 of 0 users found this helpful00
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10
dante_bothermeJun 28, 2017
This is a stunning and compelling depiction of what life may have been like while traveling across the American wilderness by wagon train. Acting and cinematography are fabulous. It actually has a lot in common with horror films -- theThis is a stunning and compelling depiction of what life may have been like while traveling across the American wilderness by wagon train. Acting and cinematography are fabulous. It actually has a lot in common with horror films -- the tension and foreboding are built when nothing much seems to be happening. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful00
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8
TrailesqueJun 21, 2017
A group of settlers, average folks, make their way thru a sere, forbidding Western landscape in Kelly Reichardt's un-western. They are led by a loud, macho, and mostly ineffective backwoods dude, dressed like Buffalo Bill - a character fromA group of settlers, average folks, make their way thru a sere, forbidding Western landscape in Kelly Reichardt's un-western. They are led by a loud, macho, and mostly ineffective backwoods dude, dressed like Buffalo Bill - a character from a John Wayne flick who has stumbled into this realistic film. The story meanders a bit, but things pick up when they kidnap an Indian and try to use him as guide - althou this is difficult because communication with him is virtually impossible. What the movie lacks in drama is made up with good acting and fine images of the land. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful00
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