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Closer Look: Desolate Backdrops in Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff

It’s difficult to contain my excitement for the loads of must see titles in this fall festival movie-going season and perched high above the titles without domestic distribution deals already in place, we have Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff.

It’s difficult to contain my excitement for the loads of must see titles in this fall festival movie-going season and perched high above the titles without domestic distribution deals already in place, we have Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff. I like to think of the film as a potentially “dated” version of Gus Vant Sant’s Gerry — where enemy of man, and woman, are the desolate, unfertile and unforgiving grounds that make up the Western part of the States. Looking at the images below, you get a sense of how promise for a “bright” future is compromised by bad decision making – you can feel a sense of urgency in the still featuring Michelle Williams. Meek’s Cutoff is competing in Venice, has been selected for the 48th edition of NYFF, and could make a stop in Telluride or TIFF.

 Kelly Reichardt Meek's Cutoff Michelle

 Kelly Reichardt Meek's Cutoff Michelle

Synopsis: The year is 1845, the earliest days of the Oregon Trail, and a wagon team of three families has hired the mountain man Stephen Meek to guide them over the Cascade Mountains. Claiming to know a short cut, Meek leads the group on an unmarked path across the high plain desert, only to become lost in the dry rock and sage. Over the coming days, the emigrants must face the scourges of hunger, thirst, and their own lack of faith in each other’s instincts for survival. When a Native American wanderer crosses their path, the emigrants are torn between their trust in a guide who has proven himself unreliable and a man who has always been seen as the natural enemy.

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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