ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Entertainment and Media»
  • Movies & Movie Reviews

Open Range (2003)

Updated on June 14, 2011

They don't make them like they use to especially when you talk about westerns, but occasionally they get pretty close. One such western which gets very close is "Open Range" starring Robert Duvall, Kevin Costner and Annette Bening. It has that old style feel, that storyline about cowboys looking for justice and feels at times like one of those westerns directed by Anthony Mann and starring James Stewart. But whilst surprisingly good it's not perfect and at times feels drawn out as it tries to capture the beauty of the open plains a little too much and also delivers an ending which is most definitely drawn out.

Whilst driving cattle across the open range cowboys Boss Spearman (Robert Duvall) and Charley Waite (Kevin Costner) are forced to take action and revisit their painful pasts when Denton Baxter the owner of a ranch and king pin in the local town decides to run them and their 2 partners out of the area. Forced to seek justice Charley and Boss put their lives on the line against Baxter's men to get justice for what has been done to them and for what they stand for.

The first thing which hits you about "Open Range" is that it has an almost artsy side to it, with lingering shots of the open plains, mountains and the use of natural lighting to deliver atmosphere. It's surprising because this level of artsy ness is not what you normally associate with a western or with the director Kevin Costner. But in a strange way it works, it creates the atmosphere, the loneliness of the plains and wows you with the beautiful vistas. Although saying that there are times when the level of artsy ness seems almost indulgent, lingering longer on shots of the back drops than maybe necessary causing it too feel a little drawn out as if Costner was so in awe of his surroundings that he couldn’t restrain himself from one more scenic shot.

But when you get past the visual ness of "Open Range" it has a very traditional feel with Charley & Boss finding themselves forced into seeking justice against a land owner who also controls the nearby town. It delivers all those expected elements, the Marshall who is in the pocket of the land owner, the quirky locals, the town doctor, the romantic element and of course the big gun fight, everything you would expect from any western. It's as if writer Lauran Paine had masterfully combined the various elements of popular westerns into one story, but not haphazardly but in a very flowing manner. It makes it feel familiar and very traditional but not in a bad way because it also captures the whole essence of the old westerns.

At the same time as feeling traditional it also adds a more contemporary side. Elements such as the town flooding making it difficult to walk around, that people didn't just go around shooting on the spur of the moment preferring to keep innocent people out of it and that the gunfighters prepared for battle, they places weapons in calculated places it gives it a slightly more believable feel. It certainly works because it stops it from feeling too fantasy like, although the big gunfight is the stuff of childhood fantasy, epic in scale with guns a blazing and bad guys getting massacred. It's another reason why it gets very close to the good old times of westerns, because it delivers those wonderful big screen moments and that gun fight certainly stands out as one of the best.

But it isn't perfect and in the tradition of westerns there is a romantic element which smoulders between Charley and Sue Barlow, brilliantly played by Annette Bening, who works with the doctor. For the most it's a nice element but is one of the reasons why "Open Range" is drawn out, it pays it too much attention to it especially during the final half an hour where it endeavours to bring closure to every aspect of the storyline. For me it didn't need closure, or at least not to the extent that is delivered in "Open Range" and would have been better to leave that side of things slightly floating. It would have certainly cut down the running length to less than 2 hours instead of the quite long 2 hours 13 minutes it runs for.

As for more positives well Robert Duvall is a piece of brilliant casting delivering every aspect of the old cowboy with a past that he's been trying to leave behind. And Kevin Costner is equally good as his right hand man Charley, delivering a more restrained performance than we are use to from Costner, giving us not so much a silent cowboy but one who only says something when it's worth saying. Between Duvall and Costner they make it all come together delivering the action perfectly but also the bond they have making them believable as old working friends who yet no little about each other.

What this all boils down to is that "Open Range" is very much a modern movie which manages to capture much of what was so good about the old westerns. It centres on a simple but compelling story of justice, it delivers tension and atmosphere plus of course a stunning gun fight which really is one of the best to have hit the big screen. But it does at times stray from the path. Costner's attempts to deliver the beauty of the landscape is at times a little over indulgent, drawing things out longer than is necessary as is the romantic storyline which whilst in the tradition of westerns is given too much attention. But even so it is a stunning modern western, one which is a must see for fans of westerns.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Andy Webb profile image
      Author

      Andy Webb 8 years ago

      The drawn out part really spoils it, but it was nice that a relatively modern western managed to capture the elements of the western classic. I like both Tombstone and Young Guns in different ways although for me Tombstone is the superior.

    • optimus grimlock profile image

      optimus grimlock 8 years ago

      Duvall was great, but the movie was so drwnout and born just like appolusa I prefer tombstone over both of these along with young guns.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)