Sunday, Sep 2020
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Screenwriters: Frank Cottrell Boyce from Thomas Hardy's novel; The Mayor of Casterbridge
Length: 120 minutes
Released: 2001

claim posterMany Westerns released in the later 1990's and early 2000's struggle to entertain. They feature pretty people in fancy duds and little more. The telling of a story is not as important as the showcasing of the costume designers' skills. The Claim puts the duds on an ordinary cast and tells a less-than-spellbinding story. For some reason, the dark secret of the boom towns' Mayor Daniel Dillon (Peter Mullen) is revealed to viewers very early in the film. The subsequent outing of the secret is laborious and ultimately boring. Further irritating this viewer was Winterbottom's inclusion of an art~house~cat~house. Where the ladies sing opera numbers and recite poetry and assorted passages. Even with all the fancy dress and satin tongues, the burlesque ladies in The Claim cannot hold a candle to Marlene Dietrich in Destry Rides Again (1939).

The Claim does contain some wonderful cinematography. The winter scenes are stark and imposing, and the grittiness of the mining town is well down and believable. At risk of being catty, it can also be said that the plain appearance of the cast is befitting. For this is an unremarkable Western, featuring an unremarkable cast. But ultimately, it is the storytelling that sinks The Claim.

Cast:

  • Peter Mullan....Daniel Dillon
  • Milla Jovovich.... Lucia
  • Wes Bentley.... Dalglish
  • Nastassja Kinski.... Elena Burn
  • Sarah Polley.... Hope Burn
  • Shirley Henderson .... Annie
  • Julian Richings.... Bellanger
  • Sean McGinley....Sweetley
  • Randy Birch.... Priest
  • Tom McCamus.... Burn
  • Frank Zotter.... Photographer
  • Artur Ciastkowski.... Delany
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