The Hi-Lo Country

Tucson Weekly

DIRECTED BY: Stephen Frears

REVIEWED: 02-01-99

This boys-and-their-cattle film is a Cormac McCarthy-esque (the sweet McCarthy of The Crossing, not the twisted McCarthy of Blood Meridian) look at two men (Woody Harrelson and Billy Crudup) who return from WWII to their ranch lands and try to live a cowboy life that's fading into the world of corporate farming. While the story is a bit obvious and melodramatic (they're both in love with the same woman, who's married to the factotum of the evil proto-corporate rancher), Harrelson's performance is strong enough to hold attention. He's just such a weird actor, playing an odd cross between his mass-murderer role from Natural Born Killers and sweet, lovable "Woody" from Cheers, that it's always interesting to watch his wild mood swings and enormously overstated facial expressions. Unfortunately, the female characters are treated like window dressing, denied much in the way of screen time or good dialogue. In the end, the cowboys themselves come across as less sexist than the filmmakers, in that they make some effort to understand the women they are attracted to and who are attracted to them. It's too bad that director Stephen Frears and writer Walon Green don't share this interest in women's inner lives, and can only give us a beautifully photographed, slow and sad buddy film, which, while not without rewards, could have been much richer in exploring the relationships it backgrounds against the red skies and grasslands of the Southwest.

--DiGiovanna

Interviews
The Hi-Lo Country

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The Hi-Lo Country

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The Hi-Lo Country

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