Monday, September 10, 2007

Mangold's Masterful Yuma


I must admit that I have never seen the original 3:10 TO YUMA so I can't compare James Mangold's new version to it. I will say though that I doubt very much that I would admire this new version any less had I seen that original 1957 production.
Since his debut twelve years ago with the touching HEAVY (1995), James Mangold has quietly become one of the most assured American Directors around. In his best films (HEAVY, COP LAND (1997), WALK THE LINE (2005) and now 3:10 TO YUMA) he is a master at penetrating character studies and at bringing out exceptional performances from his lead actors.
One thing that I love about 3:10 TO YUMA is how overwhelmingly simple it is. Much of this has to be credited to Elmore Leonard's original story but the screenplay credited to Halsted Welles, Micahel Brandt and Derk Haas is really exceptional in how cleared headed it is in what it is trying to accomplish.
I am going to hold off from a full review of the film until I can see it again and have time for it to really soak it in. I can say right now that I didn't have any problems with it, which is rare for me with a modern American film. I was struck by everything from by the look of the film to the incredible score (that manages to be dramatic without sounding manipulative) by Marco Beltrami. 3:10 TO YUMA though is finally about the cast, specifically its two leads, and most of the films success should be credited to them.
The supporting cast is fine and features especially solid work from Gretchen Mol and a beautifully grizzled looking Peter Fonda. It was also great to see the always reliable Vinessa Shaw in an effective scene towards the beginning with Russell Crowe.
The two leads are magnificent. If there are two better actors than Russell Crowe and Christian Bale under fifty on the planet right now then I don't know where they are hiding. The main pleasure in YUMA is watching these two phenomenal actors working together and their work makes a very simple story into something positively epic.
Crowe's Ben Wade is one of his great performances and one of his most relaxed. Any other actor would have overplayed this role into the ground but Crowe delivers one of the most effective and moving performances of the year here. Bale equals him at every turn and his Dan Evans is a startling creation that is equal parts wounded and heroic. Together these two lock in perfectly and the connection they have by the end of the film doesn't feel at all forced, but just right.
3:10 TO YUMA is one of the best films I have seen this year and it's a great film to see in a theater. It's a classy and classic western that never feels like it is apologizing or patronizing the genre. I haven't enjoyed or been as moved by an American western since Clint Eastwood's UNFORGIVEN over fifteen years ago.

5 comments:

Rogue Spy 007 said...

I look forward to your more in detail review of this film. My brother raved about it so much yesterday. He loved it immensely.
Now hearing your high regard for it, makes me even more want to see it. I'm a huge fan of both Crowe and Bale. They are exceptionally great actors. That's rare in this day and age. I've wanted to see this film since I saw the trailer for it. I'll have to make sure I see it.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Keith,
I was really floored by it...let me know what you think of it. I love Crowe and Bale and they are at the top of their game in this one...

Mr. Peel said...

My one issue with the film may be that I don't know if the peg leg that Bale's character has is really allowed to register. But if that's my biggest complaint, that has to be a good thing. I just like the fact that there's a western, and a good one, playing right now.

Sarah Ritchie said...

I enjoyed this film immensely! It is definitely one of the best films I've seen this year in the theater. I absolutely love Christian Bale and Russell Crowe. Their acting is effortless. They really don't seem like they are even acting, they just are the charcter their playing. I hope I get to see more great movies soon. It's really sad how there doesn't seem to be very many great movies made these days. At least not ones that I hear about.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Mr. Peel.
I actually wondered the same thing as it did seem underdeveloped. I amcurious if the dvd will have say a deleted scene focusing more on it...

Thanks Sarah. I really appreciate you stopping by and commenting. Thanks for the nice words and I agree with you...