Seraphim Falls Reviews
In a mixed review, Christy Lemire writing in the Deseret News mused about the lead characters, stating, "Their climactic confrontation is visually arresting in its starkness. But as an anti-war statement, a call to lay down arms that's clearly intended to be relevant today, it's a bit too clunky in its literalism." She ultimately found the film to be "technically solid" but a "dramatically unremarkable Western". Todd McCarthy of the Variety staff believed the film was "nothing rousing or new" and that Brosnan along with Neeson wouldn't be enough "to muster more than modest theatrical B.O. for this very physical but familiar oater." He did however reserve praise for the cinematography noting, "Its physical beauty notwithstanding - Toll's work, which emphasizes the blues and greens of the forests, is always a pleasure to behold". The film however, was not without its supporters. Claudia Puig writing for USA Today offered an almost entirely positive review recalling how she thought the film was a "psychological drama with an intriguing ambiguity that challenges the viewer's loyalties and preconceived notions." She remarked that the storyline was an "elaborate and relentless chase that takes those involved into primal psychological terrain." Stephen Holden writing in The New York Times applauded some of the realism displayed in the film, commenting, "Nothing in the rest of the film comes close to matching the impact of Gideon's carving the bullet from his arm with his hunting knife, then cauterizing the wound while emitting agonizing howls. This scene is enough to give you vicarious hypothermia." He also expressed his satisfaction with the visual attributes of the picture by saying "Its strongest element is the austere majesty of the cinematography by John Toll ("Braveheart," "Legends of the Fall," "The Thin Red Line"), in which the severe beauty of the Western landscape looms over the characters as a silent rebuke." Critic Josh Rosenblatt, writing for The Austin Chronicle viewed Seraphim Falls as "Meditative, beautifully shot, and blessed with a healthy dose of cynicism" and a "morality play without the morality and a Western Purgatorio that, in the end, demands its protagonists resign themselves to their loneliness and brutality and avail themselves of the redemptive power of sheer exhaustion." Kevin Crust of the Los Angeles Times gave the film a somewhat mixed rating calling it "A beautifully shot chase film by writer-director David Von Ancken and co-writer Abby Everett Jaques, it moves along with minimalist efficiency" but overall admitting it ran out of "gas during an overlong allegorical final section." Author Joshua Rothkopf of Time Out commented that the film "has all the good looks of its wintry Oregon locales, not to mention the equally craggy faces of Liam Neeson and a grizzled-up Pierce Brosnan, embroiled in a Fugitive-like pursuit with the latter on the run."
When "Seraphim Falls" came out in 2006 I did like it as far as I remember, but I must say that when re-seeing it in 2017 I see more flaws compared to what I saw back then. The storyline carries some resemblances (and I reckon a homage) to Clint Eastwood´s classic "The Outlaw Josey Wales". Being a revenge story, but not maybe not as straightforward as the "The Outlaw Josey Wales", the pace is very on and off in my opinion. But, the cinematography has several treats for the eyes. The pursuit goes throughout the whole film and to be honest neither Brosnan nor Neeson impress that much in their respective roles if you ask me. Two brits trying to portray protagonists from the Civil War feels somewhat so so in my book. Maybe it´s because both of them feels a bit "done" on the screen today and that colours my judgment. The encounters between the characters becomes more and more surreal during the running time and in the end we enter something more supernatural and metaphorical with Anjelica Huston's character Louise C. Fair (Lucifer) and a scorching desert obviously representing Purgatory, where according to Catholic tradition, sins are burned away. This is of course something a bit more "different" within the genre, but at the same time it doesn´t balance over the film to becoming a great western. "Seraphim Falls" is an average western in my book and nothing more.
A tough cat and mouse western adventure with a stripped down plot and a strong cast. The opening twenty or so minutes are the strongest part, with Brosnan battling the freezing elements of a mountain pass while Neeson tracks him like a wild animal. The quite savage violence adds bite, but really this doesn't have very much up its sleeve. And once the ideas start to run dry and Anjelica Huston turns up (or does she?) to simply add a few extra minutes to the run time making this more frustrating overall than anything else. There is a good short story tucked away in this, but as it is there just isn't enough meat on the bones here to make this something significantly better than average.
Liam Neeson as Carver: Like Brosnan, Neeson described being "kind of steeped in that western mythology growing up in Ireland."He likened his character, Carver, to Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick, "he's [Carver] totally governed by this idea of revenge where he's practically lost his humanity."
Pierce Brosnan as Gideon: The role was originally to be played by Richard Gere but after he dropped out, Pierce Brosnan replaced him. Brosnan spoke of his love of Western films during production and promotion of Seraphim Falls, which had stemmed from watching them as a child.
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Notable similarities have been found between the film and the 1976 revisionist western, The Outlaw Josey Wales directed by Clint Eastwood.
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