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The lead role in this western actually belongs to Kevin Costner, who plays Spearman's trail partner and employee, Charlie Waite. Boss is a cattleman that practices free-range grazing, i.e. driving his herd from place to place, only staying long enough for the animals to deplete the available food supply. But it's 1882, ranchers are beginning to fence in the West, and freegrazers are an endangered species. So, its no surprise when Charlie and Boss are ordered to take their beeves and get out of Dodge, so to speak, by big time rancher Baxter (Michael Gambon), who also owns the local town and its sheriff. Waite and Spearman are soon backed into a corner when the latter's two other hired hands, Mose (Abraham Benrubi) and Button (Diego Luna), run seriously afoul of Baxter's thugs.
It would be hard to choose between the better performance - Costner or Duvall - both playing characters so strong, self-reliant and silent that neither knows the other's full name. And they've been riding the West together for ten years! Nor does Boss know Charlie's violent history, which included being a Civil War raider, and then a hired gun much like the ones now working for Baxter. When Charlie falls in love with Sue (Annette Bening), the spinster sister of the local sawbones, his guilt over his rough-edged past is a self-imposed handicap that Sue, who sees Waite's inner goodness, must overcome.
Moviegoers accustomed to a steady diet of mindless, FX-laden action thrillers may find the first three-quarters of OPEN RANGE slow going.Read more ›
Set in 1882, OPEN RANGE stars Costner and veteran Robert Duvall as cattlemen only trying to drive their cattle across the open prairie of Montana. But they soon run afoul of a ruthless land baron (Michael Gambon) out to rid the land of free-grazers like Duvall and Costner; and to prove his point, Gambon has one of Duvall's men (Abraham Benrubi) killed and another (Diego Luna) seriously wounded. The stage is set for a traditional but classic shoot-out to the finish.
If not on the epic level of Costner's 1990 Oscar-winner DANCES WITH WOLVES, or the standards set by people like Clint Eastwood, John Ford, Howard Hawks, or Sam Peckinpah, OPEN RANGE nevertheless demonstrates Costner's comfortability with the Western. His is a determined performance, and his direction is equally fine, with stunning photography, done on location in southern Canada, and a fine Michael Kamen score. Gambon is about as nasty a villain as there has been in any film in recent times, and James Russo does his natural evil best as a half-crazed town sheriff. It is Duvall, a veteran of many westerns (TRUE GRIT; LAWMAN), however, who really shines, as is typical of this kind of caliber actor. Always offering some wry advice but ready to take retaliation for having been wronged, Duvall is a tower of strength. Annette Benning also does good work as the town doctor's sister, who also becomes Costner's love interest.
The Western genre has not run out of stories or ideas, and never will; it just needs people of integrity like Costner to keep it going. OPEN RANGE proves that in spades.
The movie boasts beautiful scenery shots that literally take your breath away, although these are best appreciated on the big screen of a movie theatre than one's tv set. Even so, the cinematography is gorgeous and the western town of Harmonville is accurately reconstructed as a typical isolated range town.
What makes this film is the acting of Duval and Costner. Both are superb in their respective roles, Duval as an aging but rugged cattleman and Costner his younger able partner. There is no better crusty "cowboy" than Duval, who reprises some of the same acting mannerisms of his classic character Agustus McCrae (from Lonesome Dove). Costner is as visually perfect as a cowbay can be, with his long lean body, and his "matter of fact" acting style. The two make this movie work.
The plot unfolds rather slowly, after all, this is nearly a 3-hour movie. Adequate time is spent developing the characters, and there is enough tension/conflict to keep the movie rolling along without it bogging down.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the best western films ever. Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall are an amazing team.Published 2 days ago by Gary Evans
This is the second time I have bought a DVD from Amazon. They are quick to deliver and good quality. I have not had any problems in buying another one.Published 3 days ago by olivia garay
I have always loved Robert Duvall....and Kevin....this movie upheld my expectations as a wonderful ...moral....and exciting
film...beautiful country scenes... Read more