Oscilloscope Pictures | Release Date: April 8, 2011
6.2
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Generally favorable reviews based on 80 Ratings
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Positive:
46
Mixed:
15
Negative:
19
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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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2
ellingstonDec 8, 2018
This is no Metacritic review, this movie is flat-out boring. You can defend it with a meta-argument like "the glacial pacing and eventless tedium of this movie is a true reflection of the settler experience on the Great Plains." Balderdash!This is no Metacritic review, this movie is flat-out boring. You can defend it with a meta-argument like "the glacial pacing and eventless tedium of this movie is a true reflection of the settler experience on the Great Plains." Balderdash! It's just a really boring movie. 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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1
JorssAug 14, 2011
Acting and direction are fine but hardly the most challenging of storylines. Do not allow this film to trick you into thinking it is more clever than it is. If it looks, sounds and smells like a boring film - it's because it is. No doubt theActing and direction are fine but hardly the most challenging of storylines. Do not allow this film to trick you into thinking it is more clever than it is. If it looks, sounds and smells like a boring film - it's because it is. No doubt the director wants to 'challenge perceptions' and words like 'subtle' and 'slow burning' will be used. This is an attempt by critics and movie industry insiders to pretend they view films on a different level to the rest of us - they know the film sucks and blows - just like everyone else, but they are afraid to say so for fear that they may be missing some 'profound message' hidden deep in the non-event that is this film.

Absolutely nothing happens. On one occasion in the film, something almost threatens to happen but of course it doesn't. The coup de grace is the ending, which of course is no ending at all. Either this was an ill-conceived attempt to provoke thought and discussion or, as a I suspect to be the case, the esteemed director took the gamble that no one would actually endure the film to its pitiful conclusion.

The film seeks to be an attempt to defy convention and this seems to be applauded without further consideration by critics these days. The challenge was set - prove you know more about films than the rest of us mere mortals by justifying the existence of this nonsense by writing a positive review - and the critics took up the baton like Olympic athletes. The simple truth is that the primary aim of films is to entertain. This can be done in many ways, I understand that. But a film that fails to entertain at all is a bad film - however cleverly or in defiance of common practice anbd wisdom this may be achieved.

The genius of the film is to con the critics and wannabee arty types into thinking there is more to it than there actually is. It is the film equivalent of the composition by John Cage - 4'33" which consisted of 4 minutes 33 seconds of pure silence - no doubt the critics loved that too. The film appears to 'appeal' to people who are tired of the formulaic, big budget, cartoon hero, SFX Hollywood movies that dominate at the moment. I have some sympathy with that viewpoint. However, to jump on the bandwagon of a film simply because it flys in the face of what you dislike is to cheat yourselves. Hating what is already out there is not a good reason to try to justify the merit of anything different. The critics have proved how pointless and out of touch with reality they are. 80%+ of critics appear to love this film and yet I suspect that 99% of the general public who are honest with themselves, will hate it.

People of the world - YOU deserve better - treat this film with the contempt IT deserves. Remember - the emperor wasn't wearing fine clothes, he was naked - and this film is terrible, however hard people with a thesaurus and some sort of movie industry qualification will try to convince you otherwise.
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2 of 3 users found this helpful21
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3
netflicMay 2, 2011
Slept most of the movie. Cinematography is impeccable. All the details are done with perfection. But there is not much else. Left the theater quite disappointed.
4 of 7 users found this helpful43
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4
MarcDoyleApr 23, 2011
Wow. As Joe says, it's certainly minimalist. But in a movie, I want more than what this movie is offering. You don't end a movie this way. I wrote a short story in college as part of a fiction-writing seminar, and I ended it in a similarWow. As Joe says, it's certainly minimalist. But in a movie, I want more than what this movie is offering. You don't end a movie this way. I wrote a short story in college as part of a fiction-writing seminar, and I ended it in a similar way. I was roundly attacked by most everyone in the class as well as the professor - now I understand why. Michelle Williams is solid - so is Bruce Greenwood. Would I recommend that ANYone see this movie? Nope. Was the tension, the frustration, the desperation palpable? Absolutely. This would be a good movie-club type of movie to discuss among a group. It's the anti-There-Will-Be-Blood. Expand
1 of 2 users found this helpful11
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4
TVJerryMay 31, 2011
A small group of pioneers is lost on the Oregon trail: that's pretty much the whole movie. The pacing is beyond slow: they trudge across the land, do simple chores, trudge some more. Much of the minimal dialogue is indiscernible and there'sA small group of pioneers is lost on the Oregon trail: that's pretty much the whole movie. The pacing is beyond slow: they trudge across the land, do simple chores, trudge some more. Much of the minimal dialogue is indiscernible and there's no emotional build. And to top it off, the movie doesn't endâ Expand
1 of 2 users found this helpful11
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6
MaxTravisApr 25, 2011
In describing Reichardtâ
1 of 2 users found this helpful11
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1
aartjeMar 14, 2012
O.K. This is the kind of movie that people who live in New York, along the eastern seaboard, or California love. They get to watch someone's visual poetry of something that is beyond their realm and they are enthralled. The west isO.K. This is the kind of movie that people who live in New York, along the eastern seaboard, or California love. They get to watch someone's visual poetry of something that is beyond their realm and they are enthralled. The west is beautiful... even the high mountain deserts this film displayed, but pictures of a silent desert with women walking in the distance in lovely colored dresses do not a story make. After the first ten minutes, I watched the whole movie on fast forward and did not miss a thing, including the nonexistent dialogue. I could not believe the silly ending...so I watched it twice. Yep! Pretty silly. Expand
1 of 2 users found this helpful11
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2
JTKelleyAug 10, 2012
Potentially one of the worst films I've ever had the displeasure of sitting through, most certainly credited to the absolute worst script I've ever seen make it to screen. The point of film is to "show, don't tell" as it's a visual medium,Potentially one of the worst films I've ever had the displeasure of sitting through, most certainly credited to the absolute worst script I've ever seen make it to screen. The point of film is to "show, don't tell" as it's a visual medium, however, this film does the exact opposite, as most plot points are voiced over in dialogue and very little is actually shown, leading to a film that drags tremendously throughout. Expand
1 of 2 users found this helpful11
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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 5 users found this helpful23
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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 6 users found this helpful24
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1
RayKinsellaNov 1, 2011
Please somebody shoot me for watching this movie! My God this is the worst Western I have ever seen. I think 60% of the movie was watching scenery and not attractive scenery- brush! I
1 of 3 users found this helpful12
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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 3 users found this helpful12
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2
DKayApr 8, 2011
Critic dudes, wtf?! This movie blew. Tortorously tedious. Love and respect for MW but the story was pathetic. A 6th grade play at best. An 86??!! Stay away, people.
0 of 6 users found this helpful06
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2
shamboApr 28, 2011
The movie palpably attempted, to cleverly show the destitute conditions a 1845 settler family had to endure,searching for water. While it succeeded, it was quite mundane and laborious to watch. I found myself slumping on my chair,The movie palpably attempted, to cleverly show the destitute conditions a 1845 settler family had to endure,searching for water. While it succeeded, it was quite mundane and laborious to watch. I found myself slumping on my chair, constantly trying to fixate my eyes on the screen but to no avail. From the elitist critics reviews and by the intriguing posters I thought it would be quite exuberant. It drags on at a sluggish pace and end at a slow pace as well. It exacerbates the audience further by having a ambiguous ending. The dialogue is minimal and when spoken is just muttered and very inaudible. Despite the families plight, I couldn't sympathise with them because of their bigotry towards the Indian. Who they fear and at the same time deem quintessential to obtaining water. At times I thought of many sadistic ways, in which a cavalcade of Indians would just come along and slaughter them. It would been more engrossing that way. I am a teenager after all what do you except from my generation? If a movie is arid, we will loathe it. I understand it is meant to have intellectual property and symbolism. But for god sake make it appealing to people. I don't watch movies to feel intelligent. I watch them to be entertained. Only a comatose patient would find this interesting. Expand
0 of 2 users found this helpful02
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2
ReebsJan 3, 2012
Is it possible that the gorgeous cinematography and historical attention to detail confuses people into thinking that this is a better movie than it is? The real story of Meek's Cutoff was sweeping, dramatic and epic and this movie has boiledIs it possible that the gorgeous cinematography and historical attention to detail confuses people into thinking that this is a better movie than it is? The real story of Meek's Cutoff was sweeping, dramatic and epic and this movie has boiled it down to weak soup. How rare - it's usually the other way around in Hollywood. The ending is...insulting. Please don't condescend by declaring it great and the need for clear endings to be bourgeois. I don't ever need neat clean tidy endings and appreciate ambiguity in many circumstances in art, but this was ridiculous. So insulting that I was moved to write my first review here to warn others who have little time to catch great movies. If you are a history buff or appreciate a period drama, watch the first 5 minutes. That's really all you need. Beautifully shot with great acting, but to quote Gertrude Stein, there is no "there" there. Expand
0 of 3 users found this helpful03
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1
AxeTJan 9, 2015
What an utter worthless bore beyond belief, and yet again so many jackass critics praised it because they sniffed something pretentious. The actors are all phony (and some have been very good in other things) delivering mostly unintelligibleWhat an utter worthless bore beyond belief, and yet again so many jackass critics praised it because they sniffed something pretentious. The actors are all phony (and some have been very good in other things) delivering mostly unintelligible dialogue which there is NEVER any excuse for! Make a silent film then.
And in this case it might as well have been as the narrative is extremely weak. Authenticity as excuse for sheer laziness. The idiotic decision to shoot the image in the old TV 4x3 square aspect ratio on a WESTERN no less just shows why novices like this should not be allowed to make movies!
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0 of 1 users found this helpful01
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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 1 users found this helpful01
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6
MorriBeyJan 4, 2012
Its a reasonably good movie let down by a rather unfulfilled ending. Had I known of the type of ending I probably would have given it a miss. Its not a memorable film by any means and the fact that it scores in the green is probably aIts a reasonably good movie let down by a rather unfulfilled ending. Had I known of the type of ending I probably would have given it a miss. Its not a memorable film by any means and the fact that it scores in the green is probably a reflection of the poor choice of movies these days that anything of merit of this film. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful00
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8
lancekozMar 23, 2018
This is spare, but filled with the beauty of the west and the humble character of the people passing thru it. It is a little violent and somewhat despairing, but there is no epic pain and suffering like any of a number of war films. If I hadThis is spare, but filled with the beauty of the west and the humble character of the people passing thru it. It is a little violent and somewhat despairing, but there is no epic pain and suffering like any of a number of war films. If I had seen it in a theater, I might feel a little overwhelmed with the hopelessness of the situation, but for home viewing, it is a fine and true visual record of the type of thing that probably happened often in the times. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful00
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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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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
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7
JLuis_001Jul 18, 2021
I could never forget a comment I read about Michelle Williams many years ago when she was nominated for an Oscar for Brokeback Mountain.

That comment said that thanks to having participated in that outstanding film, she would get her five
I could never forget a comment I read about Michelle Williams many years ago when she was nominated for an Oscar for Brokeback Mountain.

That comment said that thanks to having participated in that outstanding film, she would get her five minutes of fame, after having finished Dawson's Creek.

It's always laughable to remember considering that the only person from that cast with a truly diverse career is her.
In addition to having three other Academy Award nominations on her resume.
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