High Plains Drifter Reviews
But still it's a solid enough western flick. With a pinch of super-natural tone, High Plains Drifter is a gruesome blood-bathed ride, quite eery at times.
High Plains Drifter stands out from Eastwood's many good westerns simply because it is a lack darker than many others I've seen and also possesses a weird supernatural quality to it. The plot is immediately dark, although it starts with Eastwood being who we expect him to be, an early rape sets him out with a more morally complex character than I had expected. This darker, cruel strand continues as it is clear that, although hired to protect them, the stranger also seems to be taking pleasure from harming the town itself.
Those who have seen it will know the ending, although it is evident from the first flashback what the film's twist is. Knowing it doesn't make the film less enjoyable but it is probably better to figure it out yourself. The film also has a good streak of humour going through it and is enjoyable ? the twist of the stranger punishing the townsfolk easily filling the time.
Eastwood is as good as always but the support cast is also full of well known faces. The direction is good and adds to the weird feel to it, the music makes it feel other worldly and the flashbacks to the whipping stop it all getting too light. By the time the town literally becomes hell, the film has always won me over.
Overall this is maybe not the best western Eastwood has ever done but it is certainly one of the most different! The supernatural twist and the streak of cruelty running through the film make it very interesting to watch.
A gunfighting stranger comes to the small settlement of Lago and is hired to bring the townsfolk together in an attempt to hold off three outlaws who are on their way. The best thing about western is that they have good story, and this one is no different. I was mostly satisfied by the story as the more it went on the more I got interested. The small supernatural elements made it more interesting in my opinion as it added a more unique feel as I was watching this. One thing about the story that's bad is that the town people are represented as cowards for the whole movie and they don't exactly improve though the at the end either.
As always, Clint Eastwood performance is spectacular as "the stranger" or nameless cowboy as he known for. Whenever Clint Eastwood is given a unnamed Cowboy you better expect nothing but the best. The direction was great, the cinematography was great, and cast fit well into there characters.
Now this may not be as good as some of Clint Eastwood other western, especially Unforgiven, but it's still a nice alternative and a unique take on the western genre from the man who is the best in that genre.
I don't suppose the film, running only a little over 100 minutes, is too draggy, but there are a few overdrawn set pieces, some of which are a little forceful in a manner which makes the implied twists sort of obvious sooner that they ostensibly should be, or at least leaves the plot to outstay its welcome enough to hit formulaic moments. I joke about the obvious influence from Sergio Leone, but the genuinely unique aspects of this "supernatural" western go punctuated by the taking of story and storytelling notes from Leone, if not other western filmmakers, which reflect a lack of certainty to Clint Eastwood's storytelling. This uncertainty is kind of understandable, as Eastwood must work hard to transcend natural shortcomings to this minimalist narrative, which is still meaty, yet would have seemed meatier if style didn't also come with its own immediately questionable elements. This particular revisionist western is characterized by trippy, almost abstractionist artistic touches that are admirable as unique, and not even all that overwrought, yet the occasions in which the offbeat meditations are overplayed stand, distancing subjective value with artistic non-conventions to storytelling. Even when the film is traditional in structure, it's often distancing, for Eastwood's quiet directorial intensity is often more quiet than intense, and therefore more dry than Eastwood can handle as a sophomore directorial storytelling, resulting in dullness that is the biggest issue of the final product. Yes, there are subtle problems throughout the film, but there are also considerable strengths, and they stood a real chance of taking a small-scale narrative and molding it into a rewarding thriller, only to go overpowered by the cold spells which, when combined with those subtle missteps, ultimately secure the final product shy of its potential. Still, the film comes close enough to rewarding to endear adequately as a thriller, and a stylish one at that.
Dee Barton's score is genuinely refreshing, capturing the supernatural feel of the film through a fusion of classic western themes and a whimsy which ranges from colorful to rather intense, while Bruce Surtees' cinematography, despite being not quite as playful as Barton's still-underused efforts, is also attractive in its bleakness, with a rugged palette over gritty art direction by Henry Bumstead. Storytelling style is questionable, but make no mistake, musical and visual styles are never less than solid, even when handled in the context of storytelling. Clint Eastwood's orchestration of subtle stylization begets subtle color that rarely allows entertainment value to slip too far, and when slow spells do enter, upon being met with a genuine sense of thoughtfulness, rather than the dryness which plagues this drama as much as anything, they bite, with high tension. Eastwood's direction is overambitious and undercooked at the same time, but when middleground is found, it's hard to deny the potential which has since gone on to be fulfilled more tightly by the talented filmmaker, who sells a fair bit offscreen here, though not as much as he does onscreen. Mostly asked to project a sense of corruption amidst a feeling of liberation from the shackles of morality, most everyone in this cast does fine, with Eastwood predictably stealing the show, with a formulaic, but still-effective portrayal of an intensely charismatic, yet chillingly enigmatic man with no name, or at least a name that is not said, just assumed. The narrative concept is minimalist in scale, and the interpretation gets flimsy, but this story of a stranger gracing, then growing to corrupt ad plague and strange land carries intriguing mystery, in addition to thought-provoking themes on temptation and placing faith in unpredictable features that are stronger than the film itself. If the film is memorable, it's for the themes and relatively gripping latter acts, and while I wish there was more inspiration throughout the film in order to make the final product rewarding on the whole, when the drama bites, it grips as an at least almost rewarding thriller.
Once the plains have peaked, a few draggy spots and conventional spots behind natural shortcomings that thin out dramatic value even more when accompanied by moments of overstylization and dull dryness winds the final product shy of rewarding, but through a neatly whimsical score, rugged visual style, some effective direction and some solid performances, all behind a story that, for all its thin spots, boasts intriguing thematic depth, "High Plains Drifter" stands as an effective, if improvable supernatural western and sophomore effort for Clint Eastwood.
2.75/5 - Decent
This is a brutal mystical western venturing into the supernatural which is not to be missed and will keep your mind busy for a while.