Hostiles. Film Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *

Cast Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Jessie Plemons, Rory Cochrane, Jonathan Majors,  Scott Shepherd, David Midthunder, Gray Wolf Herrera, John Benjamin Hickey, Stafford Douglas, Stephen Lang, Bill Camp, Wes Studi, Timothee Chalamet, Adam Beach, Orianka Kilcher, Tanaya Beatty, Peter Mullan, Austin Rising, Robyn Malcolm, Ryan Bingham, Paul Anderson, Ben Foster, Scott Lounde.

Responsible, objective, fair story-telling- a passionate plea that has been heard in the Western genre of cinema before but never seems to come to fruition, not in the abundance that is required to make the story of the West, once something that pulled the imagination of many a Boy’s Own adventure comic and secretly many a girl’s thought as well, more demanding to put on screen because it should not fall into the tired format of post Second World War views of cowboys and Indians, of the white man defending the area he has invaded and the war against the noble savage. It is a plea to redress and highlight balance and in many ways one that has been heeded by the makers of Hostiles.

The western was a staple diet for many cinema goers, times change and so must a false narrative way of presenting a war that has been glossed over by American history and one that was represented as endearing, rugged, harsh and righteous; the fight for the west was one of expansion, of war between two conflicting ideals and one that, with notable exceptions aside, has found a way to still be defended.

Hostiles frames the point of the aftermath of such war between two men who fought on opposite sides, both dying in their own way, both now forced to wrestle with the conscious of their actions, the constant reminders of the landscape of what they were trying to protect, spirit and union. In this frame by frame narrative of the wilderness, the hardship and the constant threat by all sides, Hostiles wins through, the pain is felt in loss and so it must be, for the great disservice we have inflicted upon the indigenous people of the world, the land taken, blood spilt, rarely does a film capture the bad feeling of reconciliation and the barriers that must be broken down to achieve it.

For Rosamund Pike this is a film that gives her even greater presence in the audience’s mind, she conducts herself with the pioneer spirit of the time superbly but one to whom the early grief of her character’s loss is etched on her face all the way through the rest of the film. With Wes Studi, the deeply reliable Paul Anderson and Christian Bale himself all contributing greatly to the reflective mood of the film, Hostiles is a film of almost self-sacrifice, it is a film that ushers in a new way of looking at the period in American History which has arguably been a stain on its Stars and Stripes and one that needs more addressing.

Hostiles is a very good film, one that is worth investing in.

Ian D. Hall