An intense and lavish frontier melodrama. 4/5 stars
In 1914 Montana, restless Brad Pitt, sensible Aidan Quinn and idealistic Henry Thomas are the three very different sons of cattle rancher Anthony Hopkins.
World War One and the arrival of Julia Ormond are the twin catalysts that fuel an epic, beautifully photographed (the cinematography won an Oscar) tale, which is heavy on scenic splendour, perfect complexions and grand passion. Pitt's brooding performance is the heart of the drama, but it's Quinn's stoical restraint that gives the story its sharpest edge.
Corny but compelling, the plot takes a truly bizarre turn when Pitt goes to war in France and his obsession with communing with nature ('There are creatures here which can't even be found in books and I have killed them all!') loads the drama with an amusing excess of symbolism and tortured self-analysis. Heroism and heartache, tragedy and tears - it's all here - making this epic melodrama at its finest.
A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.
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