The 58th SF Intl Film Festival: Day 6 – David Oelhoffen’s “Far From Men”

df37062e5e67b60328323c2039f33825Being that this year’s film festival has 2 movies starring Viggo Mortensen, Jauja and Far From Men, I thought I should at least see one of them, right? As to which one, the choice was rather easy given Jauja had already gone to rush, and the fact that I hate standing in line on a cold day for a film I may not even be admitted into. So Far From Men it was then. After all, word on the festival street has been good for both these movies – which my fellow Filmbalaya mate Rock can personally attest to (read his review here) – so really the choice was sort of a no brainer.

In the movie Viggo plays an Algerian grade school teacher/ex-soldier who finds himself burdened with the task of delivering a murderer to a far-off village where he will then be tried and most likely killed. Of course there’s more to the movie than just that outlining premise, and both Viggo, who impressively speaks both French and Arabic throughout the film, and his prisoner/companion Mohammed (played by character actor extraordinaire, Reda Kateb) do a great job of carrying the film. Although the movie takes place in Algeria during the 1950s it still manages to evoke the very best of landscapetual classic American westerns.

My only complaints are that some of the framing used for some of the key moments, though as nicely shot as they were, were a little too predictable, thus losing all intended elements of surprise. Also, it should have ended 15 minutes before it actually did. But alas, these are just minor missteps in an otherwise very fulfilling, action filled, thought provoking road trip of a film, and should not in any way discourage you from seeing this on a large screen during its soon-to-be wider release.

Oh, one more thing. I Almost ended this write-up without mentioning the great score by Nick Cave. Has this guy done a bad score yet? I didn’t think so. Given this film, along with the work he’s already done on The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, The Proposition, and heck, I’d even throw The Road in there, I’d say the Caveman has been setting the bar quite high recently when it comes to scoring westerns.

four-stars4

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Categories: Reviews, San Francisco International Film Festival

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