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The Hi-Lo Country

Director: Stephen Frears
Writer: Max Evans
Gramercy; R; 127 minutes
Release:12/98
Cast: Woody Harrelson, Billy Crudup, Patrcia Arquette and Penelope Cruz

Watching The Hi-Lo Country gives rise to a mysterious nostalgia — is it the sensation of longing for a bygone era of rugged cowboys and open frontiers? Or is it merely stirrings of regret for what could surely have been a much better film? Woody Harrelson plays Big Boy, a rowdy and gregarious cowboy whose quasi-mythic boots Harrelson doesn't quite fill. Big Boy and his best friend Pete (Crudup) have just returned from WWII. Along with the rigors of working cattle they face encroaching modernity, displacement, forced eviction, homelessness, death. (Odd that the cowboy may follow the path of the Native Americans he killed and quarantined). Disputes over women and family conflict enter the stage later on. True cinema cowboys have grit, spine and directors who know how to work vigorous life into the plains' vast extremities. At the hands of Stephen Frears, a maudlin British director, The Hi-Lo Country misses the mark.


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