Sunday, December 30, 2007

Seraphim Fell Hard For It

Crossposted from

This week, I finally got around to watching Seraphim Falls, a western filmed in New Mexico that played in theaters briefly last year. My coworker, his partner and I hooked my laptop up to their projector and we watched the film unfold across the length of the wall of his living room. It killed my laptop doing it, but in the end, reinstalling Vista (again) was worth it.

Starring two Irishmen as American Civil War veterans, the film’s too sparse on dialogue to hear the lilting holes in their assumed American accents. Hell, from the opening scene, you know that Brosnan’s character probably hasn’t spoken to anyone in three years.

He’s a mountain man, one minute building a fire and the next running for his life. Throughout the film, Brosnan’s motivated only by shame and survival, as Neeson and a gang of bounty hunters chase him across the New Mexico wilderness. You don’t know what Brosnan’s done, but it’s something horrific and old and soul-scarring, both for him and Neeson, who won’t stop until he’s personally put a bullet in Brosnan’s head. The chase is exquisite and brutal and logical and long; you might call the plot slow, but the scenes are white-knuckling and physically exhausting.

It’s the kind of Western I complain they don’t make anymore. It obeys the genre rigidly, and yet completely transcends it. It’s the thinking man’s action film; a little James Dickey with a lot of Serge Leone. Man against man. Man against nature. Man against his own soul. In the last quarter, it gets downright metaphysical, but it’s both apt and intriguing and wide open to interpretation. That’s just how I like it (and why My Name is Nobody is one of my all-time favs). I spent a good twenty minutes lying in bed that night meditating on the multiple layers of meaning in the title, “Seraphim Falls.” Plural on purpose, I concluded.

Anyway, it satisfied me like so few films do. Totally recommended, dude.