There’s a streak of darkly funny absurdity running through this oddball Western starring Ethan Hawke, John Travolta and canine YouTube star Jumpy, finds Jason Best.
Keep Your Finger on the Trigger.
Horror specialist Ti West's oddball Western In a Valley of Violence boasts many staple elements of the genre, including a tight-lipped drifter hero seeking to atone for his violent past, played by Ethan Hawke, a dust-blown Texas town hostile to outsiders and sundry gunfights.
But there’s a streak of darkly funny absurdity running through the film as well, not least in the climactic in-the-street showdown, which finds John Travolta’s wooden-leg-toting marshal caught awkwardly in the middle when the bullets start to fly. Taissa Farmiga and Karen Gillan also pop up as a pair of quarrelsome sisters. But it is Hawke’s canine companion, Abbie (played by YouTube star Jumpy), the cutest screen dog since Uggie in The Artist, who steals the movie paws down.
Certificate 15. Runtime 99 mins. Director Ti West
In a Valley of Violence debuts on Sky Cinema Premiere on Sunday 19 November. Available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital from Universal Pictures UK.
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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.