I'll just post what the New York Times reviewer published this week - because he says it better than I can. Barking Water opened in Manhattan on 5-12-2010 for a five night run at the Museum of Modern Art. This is an amazing film.
Barking Water (2009)
A Road Trip to the End of the Road
By STEPHEN HOLDEN New York Times
Published: May 12, 2010
Sterlin Harjo's spare, cosmically solemn film "Barking Water" follows the road trip across Oklahoma made by an American Indian man and the woman he loved and left, who has come back at the end of his life to help him die. Their destination: Wewoka, capital of the Seminole nation. As the story begins, Frankie (Richard Ray Whitman), who is in the final stages of cancer, is wheeled from a hospital bed to a battered station wagon driven by his best friend and former lover, Irene (Casey Camp-Horinek).
"I owe you this one, Frankie; I'll get you home," she promises early in the emotional journey, during which there are several stops, the first at a self-service gas station from which she speeds off without paying after looking into her nearly empty purse. The two haven't seen each other in the years since Frankie left Irene for reasons that are barely hinted at. In revenge, Irene recalls, she lied to her brothers about his being physically abusive, and they beat him up.
But as they make their way to Wewoka, the home of Frankie's estranged daughter and a grandchild he has never seen, it is obvious that their souls are entwined, even if Irene's old wounds haven't entirely healed. Along the way they stop and stay goodbye to assorted friends and relatives, including Irene's rowdy nephews, one of whom makes the movie's only funny wisecrack: "Do you have a plan for when the zombies attack?"
They pass a factory whose pollution, Irene believes, gave many of the nearby residents cancer. When they pause in a field for a ceremonial burning of sage, the owner of the property appears and angrily accuses them of practicing voodoo. But on being told of Frankie's illness, he relents and offers them marijuana to ease Frankie's nausea. This is a movie in which people, underneath their fears and prejudices, are fundamentally good.
Frankie and Irene pick up a pair of hitchhikers, stop at roadside greasy spoons and visit a church. Their only disagreement is minor and has to do with Frankie's insistence on playing the same song over and over until Irene can't stand it and stops the car.
The Oklahoma flatlands enhance the film's cosmic perspective, as do the silences in a screenplay whose rhythms and dialogue often feel self-consciously stagy. During those silences the camera studies Frankie's and Irene's handsome, haggard faces, which convey, more than words, the dignity of two people who have lived intensely and carry many regrets. Frankie's deep, rumbling voice, even when weakened, lends his remarks a weighty finality.
"I still love you, always have, always will," he murmurs and remembers a perfect day they once spent fishing. As his strength ebbs, and his mind drifts, Irene tries to talk him back to consciousness, begging him to remind her of that day.
In investing its characters with such stoic nobility, "Barking Water," which has the first of six screenings on Wednesday at the Museum of Modern Art, risks sentimentality. But the quiet humanity of the performances infuses the movie with a truthfulness that outweighs its flaws.