From the Video Shop: Broken Trail

Neil Turner

2006 - Canada - 184 minutes

Writer - Alan Geoffrion

Director - Walter Hill

Internet Movie Database User Rating - 7.6/10 - Link to IMDb

My Rating - 5 of 5 Stars

I didn't know anything about Broken Trail until I saw that Robert Duvall and Thomas Haden Church were nominated for Golden Globes for their performances in the film. I am a real Duvall fan and his performances in all the stages of his life - To Kill A Mockingbird and The Great Santini being two of my all-time favorites - and now comes the pleasure of his performance in Broken Trail.

Certainly not to be overlooked is Thomas Haden Church. His portrayal of a hardened ranch hand at loose ends is striking in that it shows us a man who can kill without regret possessed by the ability to love deeply.

The story is a pretty standard Western. Duvall and Church are running a herd of horses to market in order to garner enough funds to invest in land and settle down. Along the way, they happen upon a group of Chinese girls who have been sold into slavery and are being delivered to a brothel. As stated, it's been done before but probably never better than in this version.

There is action, but acting and character are paramount. In the special features on the DVD, the director states the decision to not have any of the girls speak English, thus all of the communication is through facial expression and body language. And that communication is a beautiful example of superior acting.

This film was produced by American Movie Classics cable network. It can be added to the lineup of cable networks that provide the outlet for films that would never be produced by the big movie companies, but are able to supply the funds to make the production value of such films a small step up from most independent films created on shoestring budgets.

Broken Trail provides the opportunity for a movie lover to sit back, enjoy a good story, and relish in excellent acting talents headed by Duvall and Church. I guarantee you will enjoy all three hours of it.

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Harvard Square Commentary, February 5, 2007