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HomeBlogsChris and Natasha's blog“HOSTILES”: A FILM ABOUT EMPATHY AND A DIFFERENT TYPE OF LOVE

“HOSTILES”: A FILM ABOUT EMPATHY AND A DIFFERENT TYPE OF LOVE

Scott Cooper’s “Hostiles” finally hit its wide release this weekend, so lucky for us, it came to our neck of the woods. This is a movie that seems like it was forgotten before it even came out. There was a lot of buzz surrounding it a few months ago, and then it kind of disappeared from conversation. It didn’t manage to get any love in the awards circuit, but it seems audiences may find it because it performed better than projected during the first weekend of its wide release. This is a movie that could easily gain steam and grow some legs with word of mouth if our screening was any indication, and we think it deserves all the success it can find.

 

We never caught a trailer for it and decided to keep it that way before going to watch it. The only thing we knew going in was that it was a Scott Cooper western starring Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike.

 

Chris says

I’m really glad we went into that blind.

 

Tash says

Why the hell have I not heard hardly anything about this movie?

 

Chris says

I know! I was thinking the same thing as soon as we walked out.

 

Tash says

I only wish that I could have anticipated how emotional this movie was going to make me. I would have brought tissues. Instead, I went through a stack of the scratchy concession napkins. Luckily, I wore waterproof mascara or I would have been a mess. The cinematic journey from New Mexico to Montana was treacherous. Leaving the theater was like arriving at an airport gate after a turbulent flight.  

 

Chris says

I totally didn’t expect that journey of emotion. It brought about pretty much every emotion in the book for me. I always love when a movie makes us remain planted in our seats when the credits roll. I instantly needed time to digest everything, and we definitely weren’t the only ones. I noticed at least 10–15 people were doing the same thing.

 

Tash says

I love eavesdropping on fellow movie goers when the credits are rolling. Watching a film is a personal experience. We don’t always get to share our takeaways with people outside of our bubble. There was an elderly couple behind us, and while the credits were rolling, I overheard the wife say to her husband, “Well, it looks like we have our next road trip planned out west, Fred.” She was really moved by the landscapes, as was I.

 

Chris says

Oh, really? Wow, I didn’t hear that. That’s really awesome. It doesn’t surprise me though, the scenery was downright gorgeous. It became another character in the movie really. Hearing that is really a testament to how beautifully the movie was shot overall.

 

Tash says

There was also a group of ladies discussing the ending… no spoilers, but it was solid… and I may have cried. OK, I cried quite a bit.

 

Chris says

My eyes definitely were not dry at the end. It was the best type of tears to. It wasn’t just “Oh man, this is so sad” or “Why?! Why did this happen?!” type tears; it was the kind where you’re relieved, you’re proud of the characters, and just so happy in the moment. That final shot too… I would gladly hang a painting of that final shot on our wall.

 

Tash says

This film felt like an instant classic.

 

Chris says

I really liked its focus on empathy. It was a movie that started out about hatred and evolved to being about love.

 

Tash says

Absolutely.

 

I find this genre to really lend itself well to discussing polarities. Pioneers were embarking on journeys into lands that were so foreign, they may as well of been the moon. Adversely, Native Americans were defending their birthrights. Settlers and army men were like parasites. The hate that conjures from constant fear can easily lead to the dehumanization of the enemy and the calcification of the human heart toward those whom which threaten us.

Captain Joe Blocker’s (Christian Bale) journey began as a mission to reluctantly return a sick Cheyenne chief and family back to their native home of Montana, but ultimately it resulted in a personal journey of spiritual salvation. Hate was an obstacle that he had to overcome in order to see his path.

 

Chris says

And that really made for an interesting character in Capt. Joe. He was so unlikeable at first—so angry and full of hate—but you could tell that he was just so torn inside and that there might be something good in him deep down. Bale was fantastic in this role. He made Capt. Joe so tense in the beginning to where he was almost having nervous ticks. I really got the sense he was at his limit. Then, as the story went on and he was learning, his tension slowly disappeared. I was really impressed with Bale’s ability to tell all of that just in his physical performance alone. I honestly think this may have been his best performance.

 

Tash says

The ensemble as a whole was brilliant. Rosamund Pike killed.

 

Chris says

Yeah, she was great as well. She had just as good of a physical performance as Bale. Everyone in the cast was great, really. I am always glad to see Adam Beach pop up. I think he is capable of a lot when he’s given the chance. I wish he had more to his role in this, but he still did well with what he had. That is a minor gripe, I guess, I did have. I would have liked to see more of their family in general because they seemed so special when they were on screen. Although, it makes sense that they were private and quiet because they were prisoners to begin with.

I loved Wes Studi as Chief Yellow Hawk too. Chief Yellow Hawk was so similar to Capt. Blocker where he was once filled with so much hate, but he had already moved past that in his life. I loved how he took it upon himself to teach Capt. Blocker to move on as well. It was very moving. I think the movie handled the characters amazingly well overall. There were a lot of characters that came in and out of the story, but each one had a purpose and were important to either the story or the lead character’s development.

 

Tash says

Ben Foster always delivers nuanced performances and his portrayal of Sgt. Wills didn't disappoint. Right when you begin to forget about Capt. Blocker’s past, Sgt. Wills saunters on screen and reminds the audience of Blocker’s checkered history. He is a man that justifies cruelty with patriotism and confuses bravery with cowardice. He’s a scary kind of bad guy. He’s a bad guy who thinks he’s good.

 

Chris says

Yeah, he was and that also made him kind of a sad character because he seemed so confused, like maybe he thought all of that killing was going to make him a hero or celebrated some day and all it did was have him wind up in chains, becoming the monster that he thought he was against.  

Oh, and Jesse Plemons… again! Hahaha, that dude is popping up everywhere! Since we went in blind we didn’t expect to see him. I think we even turned to each other and chuckled because we have seen him so often recently. It’s not a bad thing though, he’s consistently good.

I kind of mentioned before how much I liked the look of the movie, but I wanted to get into that again. It was really nice to see the American frontier on screen like that again. I loved the wide open frames and how often they showed us those sweeping landscapes and big skies. I think the environment was such a key part of their lives back then and was glad to see “Hostiles” give the landscapes such a spotlight. Whether we were in wide open fields or in claustrophobic woods, it always looked so beautiful. I think I audibly whispered, “Wow,” at least six times at the visuals alone. Masanobu Takayanagi has done some great work in the past (“The Grey,” “Warrior”), but this was on another level. Aside from “Blade Runner 2049,” this was hands down my favorite cinematography of 2017. It was a moving painting, and I could easily watch this movie without sound and still be thoroughly entertained. Takayanagi didn’t try to do anything flashy or new, and I think that was important. He shot it in a traditional style that fits right in with the classics of the western genre. It really showed he understood and trusted the subject matter. Keeping it traditional, or simple, really let what’s in the frame shine through and it wound up making for some masterful work. I will definitely have my eye on what he does in the future.

 

Tash says

It’s one of my favorites of the year too. It is an inspiring story and beautifully crafted. The principle characters lose everything they know, but through their struggles, gain everything they come to have.

 

Chris says

Empathy was a big part of “Hostiles.” Empathy and the idea of good and bad. It was an interesting look at what makes someone good and what makes them bad. There was no absolute in that regard. I enjoyed how it showed bad people can do good things and good people can do bad things, it mostly depends on what they learn from it and how they utilize that knowledge in the end. Some people don’t learn and wind up being miserable, bad people. Others learn from their mistakes and earn redemption while finding peace in life. I didn’t know which way some of the characters would go, even up to the end, and that made “Hostiles” feel very real. Very honest.

I must say, I was glad to see the movie was considered to be over performing after releasing wide. I think it’s a movie that will have good word of mouth and people will tell their friends and family to go see it. I hope it finds success, because I really enjoyed it and would like to see more movies like it on the big screen.

 

Tash says

“Hostiles” was beautiful on multiple levels. I highly encourage you to go experience this film for yourself.

 

Chris and Natasha

Chris and Natasha

Chris and Natasha are both working on their graduate degrees. She studies art education and he does communication. They watch a lot of movies, but not too many, because that’s impossible.

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