South Asian Insider
The reason Christian Bale is the greatest Hollywood actor of his generation
Christian Bale delivers one of the most understated performances of his storied career in Scott Cooper’s uncompromisingly grim Western.
Director - Scott Cooper
Cast - Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Wes Studi, Ben Foster, Jesse Plemons, Timothee Chalamet
Rating - 4/5
There is a deep melancholy that runs through Hostiles, and essentially every film by Scott Cooper, that defies explanation. The filmmaker only seems to make the sort of movies industry ‘experts’ insist are becoming less viable by the year. His latest is not only uncommonly grim for a mainstream picture starring a mainstream movie star, but it is also a Western, a genre that has famously fallen from the audience’s good graces, unless, of course, Quentin Tarantino or the Coen Brothers are somehow involved.
Barely five minutes go by before Hostiles announces, with gut-wrenching ferocity, what kind of film it is going to be - massive both thematically and visually, and uncompromisingly brutal in its outlook. We see the family of Wesley Quaid getting attacked by native Americans on horseback. They charge with arrows drawn, unleashing war cries that sear through the quiet. Quaid commands his wife to run, and to take their three children - one of whom is an infant - away from the onslaught. She doesn’t get far. Her husband is shot and scalped within her earshot, as are her two young daughters. She barely manages to escape with her baby.
The story of Rosalie Quaid, played by Rosamund Pike, is one of the many threads Cooper weaves within Hostiles. Through the course of its languid two odd hours, several characters enter the picture - all of whom are either literally or metaphorically headed towards the final destination - and even more exit it.
The one constant whose duty it is to shepherd these souls - an ageing tribal chief to his village, a disgraced soldier to the gallows, and Rosalie Quaid to safety - is Captain Joseph Blocker, played by Christian Bale. But he has his own journey to complete - one that until recently didn’t involve the responsibility of escorting men and women.
Hostiles is Bale’s second film with Cooper. I wrote about their previous movie, Out of the Furnace, recently. Looking closely, it would appear that both movies are essentially about the same themes - broken characters trudging through life, wordlessly accepting whatever is thrown at them, and fighting back when it becomes impossible to take more abuse. Underneath their rugged exterior, they’re both morality tales about men having to compromise on their beliefs.
And both films are anchored by two of the finest, unusually understated Christian Bale performances you’re likely to see. Famously, he’s the sort of actor whose method invariably overshadows every conversation about him. But range is what he has in droves. There is little that remains to be said about Bale’s talents that hasn’t already been said, numerous times. I called him the greatest Hollywood actor of his generation in that Out of the Furnace piece, because unlike several of his contemporaries, he knows that the power of silence is often more resilient than scene-stealing bravura.
Notice how he twitches his mouth in Hostiles - hidden beneath a moustache that could inspire Hercule Poirot to do better - and his eyebrows. Notice the jitters in his eyes. Blocker isn’t a man fully in control, even though Bale is.
This is a performance that will likely be forgotten amid the dozens of louder ones he’s delivered, as will this movie, but that is perhaps what makes Scott Cooper such a rarity.Each of his films, with the exception of his first, Crazy Heart, has brought to the American mainstream stories about people living off the beaten track. These are characters who do not operate by the law - mostly in the symbolic sense, but in the case of Johnny Depp’s Whitey Bulger in Black Mass, also quite literally. They’re working class, everyday folk, the sort of people actual movie characters would order coffee from or pay to have their cars washed by.
Despite what it thinks about the world - there are several not-so-subtle comments made about Donald Trump’s Red State America - Hostiles is a rewarding movie that deserves to be given a shot. It might not be as great as Bale’s other Western, 3:10 to Yuma, but boy does it come close.
Delhi Chief Minister or Lieutenant Governor supreme? Supreme court will decide today
Who holds the reins of Delhi — Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal or Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal? It will be known Wednesday when ...
Delhi cricket polls may be invalidated, violations under scrutiny: Vinod Rai
A day after television news channel owner Rajat Sharma’s panel swept the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) polls, chai...
Supreme Court checks govt: Pick DGP from state names shortlisted by UPSC
Ordering a slew of measures to push police reforms, the Supreme Court Tuesday directed states to notify the Union Public Service C...
Arrest inside court premises cannot be tolerated: Madras HC
Taking a serious view of police arresting people in court premises, Madras High Court Chief Justice Indira Banerjee on Monday said...
Theresa May says UK to set out new Brexit details after June EU meeting
Prime Minister Theresa May told the EU’s Donald Tusk on Monday that Britain would set more details on its vision for a future rela...
Iran vs Portugal Live Score, FIFA World Cup 2018: Iran 0-0 Portugal
16' Portugal awarded the free kick and Ronaldo takes it just outside the box and the shot touches the top of the wall and goes ove...
Chinese tech investment in US is next target in Trump's crackdown: Reports
WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump is set to announce new measures this week to target growing Chinese investment in key technolog...
Figures show about 2,000 minors separated from families
Nearly 2,000 minors have been separated from their families at the US border over a six-week period during a crackdown on illegal ...
Car bomb kills 20 during Eid ceasefire in east Afghanistan’s Nangarhar
A car bomb killed at least 20 people at a gathering of Taliban and Afghan armed forces in the eastern city of Nangarhar on Saturda...
Delhi court extends by 5 days ED custody of scribe Upendra Rai
A Delhi court on Saturday allowed custodial interrogation of journalist Upendra Rai by the Enforcement Directorate for another fiv...
© All rights Reserved. The south Asian, Published Weekly from New york.