Tom Joad the Bank Robber – ★★★★½
The Howard brothers, one a soft spoken carer, Toby (Chris Pine), the other a recently released convict with a short fuse, Tanner (Ben Foster), embark on a series of bank robberies all in the attempt to stop the bank for closing on the farm. Very much aware of the worlds written by Steinbeck and shot by Ford, Hell or High Water still has its own story to tell. It does so with a deft elegance, yet unapologetic for the violence of our times.
Chris Pine has the look of James Dean from Giant about him with his measured delivery and brooding stillness. The chemistry between Pine and Foster is what sets the film apart, expertly capturing brotherly love and the bond that family creates. On the side of good we get Jeff Bridges as a two days left to retire ranger alongside Gil Birmingham, his long suffering Native American partner. The playful teasing between the two quickly establishes your fondness for the pair.
Clocking in around the ninety minute mark the film never overstays its welcome, managing to pack in a heist movie, a social commentary on the death of the American west, a look at the notion of family – all in the guise of a western. It examines all the tropes; the value of land, a disregard for the law, a pining for simpler times and the sense of duty in being able to provide for one’s family.
Bridges is fantastic, transforming himself into a gravelly, growling curmudgeon who gives the impression he might drop dead of a heart attack at any moment. As you watch his performance, remember this is The Dude and you will begin to realise the depth of his talents. It would be surprising if he doesn’t garner a best supporting Oscar nomination come February.
A beautiful paced, scored and shot movie Hell or High Water really shows that the well has not run dry on the Western.
Opens Friday the 9th of September