Dead Man's Burden (2013)
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Critic Reviews for Dead Man's Burden
It's a strong debut for Moshe, who, with the exception of some of the oater dialogue, shows both a reverence for and a knowledge of the genre that's intriguing.
Ponderous but lovely, simple but elegant, it should appeal to fans of Westerns.
Small in scale but with a grand visual ambition, "Dead Man's Burden" draws nourishment from its burned-out desert setting and ambling pace.
Despite visual nods to dozens of classic Westerns, the film cannot break through with its own vision.
The story is modest to the point of occasionally seeming slight, and the ending is a tad too cute in the way it circles back to the beginning, but even those flaws just make it feel more authentic. See it now, before it gets rediscovered.
Audience Reviews for Dead Man's Burden
Some fine performances all-around, in particular Jacobs and Bowen; I'm talking award nomination material here. Moshe does a great job in his directorial/writing debut in presenting a compelling story.
In "Dead Man's Burden," Wade McCurry(Barlow Jacobs) has survived the Civil War only to find that he is not entirely done with violence just yet. And then once he gets to his family homestead in Texas, he has to prove to his younger sister Martha(Clare Bowen) and her husband Heck(David Call) that he is who he says he is and that his death was greatly exaggerated. That's only to discover that he is too late to attend his father's funeral. "Dead Man's Burden" is a great looking western that has some deep thoughts on the nature of frontier justice. But as far as any kind of story or characterization goes, the movie is sadly paper thin, with acting on the amateurish level of historical reconstructions.
Criminally overlooked, Dead Man's Burden is a stark poetic western that takes you through a gritty world of deception. The dialogue has a poetic, almost Cormac McCarthy, approach and the most intriguing aspects are the conversations between the characters rather than big action scenes. It speaks to both the mind and the heart, slow, minimalist, and with the rare quality to meet its ambition. The director obviously has a keen sense for detail and the actors disappear into the world. It is not perfect by any means (some specific things come to mind) but definitely worth a look.
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