Like "It's a Wonderful Life", this is a movie that avoids being overly sentimental by exposing real darkness in the protagonist before she gets the opportunity to miraculously gain a new perspective on herself and the people important in her life. Harry Dean Stanton is heartbreakingly genuine as the Gideon, the Cowboy Angel. As an old fan of John Byner as a comedian/impressionist, I was impressed that I didn't even recognize him in a dramatic character role until I saw the credits. The children's responses as tragedy unfolds are remarkable, simple, direct and real. As a fan of Mary Steenburgen, with a bit of a crush on her when I saw the movie, it was difficult to see her be so convincing as an initially unsympathetic character. This is a film with an edge, perhaps not for the faint of heart or skittish children, but it's the kind of movie I look forward to seeing again and love to introduce to friends.