I caution you. I’m a sucker for westerns, especially modern ones, because they are so few and far between. The last good one was Open Range, and that was 15 years ago (I don’t consider the brilliant The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford to be a traditional western, but you have to go back to 2007 for that one, and the Coen Brothers True Grit from 2011 is a remake, so, it is also exempted).
I also concede that this film is a bit heavy on allegory and peace pipe mumbo-jumbo. That said, I loved it. Set in 1892, Christian Bale plays an embittered officer tasked with transporting an Indian chief (Wes Studi) and his family from New Mexico to Montana. It is a laborious task made even more so to Bale because a decade earlier, Studi massacred Bale’s men, much as Bale massacred many an Indian. During their trek, they come across a brutalized, in-shock Rosamund Pike, a frontier woman who lost everything to marauding Apache. Along with a dozen other supporting characters, the group makes it way through the forbidding and harsh land, and God help me for writing these words, but in the doing, they come to an understanding about each other and their past deeds. Written and directed by hit-or-miss Scott Cooper (Black Mass, Crazy Heart, Out of the Furnace), this is a sprawling, expertly shot picture with a heavy dose of melancholy and a serene, mystical side that evokes Terence Malick (in a good way). Several scenes were deeply affecting, and the acting is committed and mature.
I couldn’t get enough and will gladly suffer the slings and arrows of my position, because you damned cynics ruin everything.