Sarah, Get Your Gun
How much injustice can a woman take before seeking revenge? Sweetwater, a wild Western drama set in 1880s New Mexico, showcases the way one angry woman deals with the villain responsible for her personal tragedy. It also follows the overwrought interactions between a preacher mad with power and the eccentric sheriff out to bring him down. Cast members January Jones, Jason Isaacs and Ed Harris make these characters seem real to us, even when their behavior is bizarre, to say the least. For example, Harris as a sometimes singing, dancing lawman? Isaacs as a religious fraud obsessed with a shiny table? Jones shooting practically everything that moves? But they all pull it off.
Brad Shield’s excellent cinematography also helps draw us into the movie by evoking feelings of desolation alternating with the hopefulness of wide Western vistas. Although the violence gets out of hand in some sequences, director Logan Miller -- working from a screenplay he co-wrote with his brother Noah -- keeps straightforward storytelling in mind throughout.
Sarah (Jones), a former prostitute, tries to find happiness as a farmer’s (Eduardo Noriega) wife. But once Pastor Josiah (Isaacs) sees this beauty, he puts his nefarious plans in motion to have her for himself. Thankfully, Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter films) refrains from hamming up a role that must have been tempting to go over the top with. Josiah is a man who wants everything to go his way. He desires absolute power and will stop at nothing to get it. He uses manipulation and religious persuasion -- but if those tactics fail, he resorts to force and violence. When Sheriff Jackson’s (Harris) investigation of a double murder leads him to Josiah, these two powerful men begin a battle of wits that can only lead to bloodshed. Harris (Appaloosa), sporting long silver hair and a bright blue coat, is full of surprises as the sheriff. He can hum a tune or trip the light fantastic one minute, then hurl a man against the wall the next. Will he join forces with Sarah in her mission against Josiah?
Although Jones (from TV’s “Mad Men”) lacks the vengeful energy Uma Thurman exudes in in the Kill Bill movies, she projects an inner rage appropriate for Sarah’s stoic personality here. She’s very impressive in the shootout sequence. Plus, the sight of her dressed in a fancy purple dress while riding a horse and slowly searching for her prey will probably stay with me for a long time.
As with all period movies, we can’t dismiss the importance of costumes and sets in transporting us back to another time and place. Sweetwater definitely succeeds in these areas. I’m also impressed with the music playing as the film’s end credits roll. It’s a treat to hear the talented Hudson Moore singing his haunting “The Cold Gray Light of Dawn,” which I think should receive a nomination as “Best Original Song” during this year’s Academy Awards proceedings.
(Released by Arc Entertainment and rated “R” for strong violence, language, some sexual content and graphic nudity.)
For more information about Sweetwater, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website. And to find out more about singer/songwriter Hudson Moore, click on the link below.