Hell or High Water (2016)

Apparently it’s not doing well at the box office, but I thought Hell or HIgh Water was a kick-ass little move — emphasis on the little. On the surface it’s about two brothers — one responsible, one wild — who go on a bank-robbing spree in the middle of Nowhere, Texas, but what it’s really about is the cracker social class the two brothers are from. As a portrait of hard scrabble, impoverished rural life in America, it’s quite good.

I was nagged by the thought that in some ways it was about Trump supporters. The Texas Ranger played by Jeff Bridges (always a favorite of mine) is a racist who thinks his racist insults are jokes, but he truly loves his Commanche-Mexican deputy, so the movie forgives him. To the film’s credit, it gives the deputy one of the most powerful speeches, as he talks about how the descendants of the people who took the land away from his people are now having the land taken away from them in turn — but by banks instead of an army. It’s a powerful statement about the corporatized death of the American Dream that also acknowledges that the American Dream was a form of robbery to begin with, transferring land from the natives to the immigrants.

Chris PIne as the “good” brother hides his sensuous beauty behind a haggard, downcast look for most of the film, and he’s great in a shifty, morally-ambiguous role. Bridges is great too, of course. I thought this one was much better than similar films such as Cold in July or Out of the Furnace.


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