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Jake and Riz have a formidable bond!
rahulshrestha-531459 September 2018
I had an opportunity to watch it early at TIFF 2018, so please ignore the average low imdb rating. Audiences gave "The Sister Brothers" a five-minute standing ovation following its debut at the Venice Film Festival. To summarize this movie, its a old Western ramble that's super funny, smart and watchable. It's utterly strange, utterly lovely postmodern Western Jake! What can't this guy do? Ahmed brings depth and texture, plus a winning idealistic vibe, to what could have been a bland straight-man role. But As good as the others are, this is John C Reilly's film. FYI, The Sisters Brothers doesn't have the same vibe as, say, Unforgiven, but it has the same quality of making us look at things from a different perspective.
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Surprisingly emotional - A tale of redemption and sacrifice.
camillelyningram10 March 2019
A surprising and beautiful combination of classic western themes with French twist. Profound. I started out feeling disinterested by the predictable characters and ended with tears and a smile. Stick with it; a truly great film.
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One of the Best Westerns in Years
Zachary_goodwin3 October 2018
The Sisters Brothers is a superb narrative driven western that doesn't hold back on it's true colors. John C Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix star as an incredible dynamic brother duo, working as assassins chasing Riz Ahmed along with Jake Gyllenhaal, a pair recent pair from Nightcrawler (2014). With outstanding performances all around, the actors create a terrific sense of realism in the relationships between characters, John C Reilly stands out, as he delivers one of his most outstanding serious and heartfelt performances yet. The film takes it times establishing itself as a true but unique western with charm and intensity, but the film hits it's prime in the third act delivering brutal and vigorous scenes. The score fits perfectly into the vibe and tone and elevates scenes to higher and more emotionally gripping spectacle. The cinematography is also notable, with exception use of gun flashes in the dark, and alluring composition. As an entirety, the film is extremely compelling and is one of the best westerns in the past decade.
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A different style of Western
m-maxime22 September 2018
This movie is by all means different of the others westerns movies you could have seen. It is funny by moments, rough by moments, calm maybe too calm sometimes. But the story is great and entertaining, and the actors are just a perfect fit. Cinematography is also great and it made us feels like we are with them!
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A dark and nihilistic western thick on dialogue and atmosphere.
scb_coldsteel30 October 2018
So I saw The Sisters Brothers at the theater. I really didn't know what to expect from the movie going in. The trailer made it seem to be a strange buddy comedy western, but I'm a fan of all of the actors so I wanted to give it a chance. Thankfully this was a case of an absolutely misleading trailer. I really enjoyed the end product and think this is one of the best westerns made in years.

The movie is a gritty and at times nihilistic western heavy on atmosphere and dialogue. The film tells two parallel stories that eventally connect as the bounty hunters the Sisters Brother chase after their prey a scientist who has discovered an efficient way to find gold. Along the way both parties encounter struggles that really emphasize the hardships of that era. This is not the kind of western with good and bad guys. Everyone is morally grey and is just trying to survive the best they can.

Anyone looking for an grand and extravagant plot should look elsewhere. The movie is far more about the journey than the destination. The initial conflict acts as a MacGuffin. The real meat of the plot is more of a character study on the brutality of the wild west and the impact it has on the individual. The film plays with traditional Hollywood tropes and the audience's own expectation to craft it's own unique voice of the era.

The brutal nature of the film was one of my favorite parts. The film really ripped away the glamour of a silver screen western and left it bleeding on a table. The movie makes it clear that life was hard, fast, and cheap. A random spider bite, visit to the doctors, or drunken hangover on a horse could easily end a person's life. There was no time for finding something to make you happy when everyday was a struggle to survive. This added realism really captured the nihilistic feel of the movie and added a bleak and somber tone to the film's progression.

The film was also very well directed and shot. The cinematography of the action scenes were fast and fluid, but never felt choppy. This by no means the kind of western with epic battles, but the action suited the overall tone of the film. The director also really did a good job with the set pieces as you really felt like you were in the wild west. The film was exceptionally well shot. The films at times was absolutely stunning to look at. The film also provides an excellent score to match the intense atmosphere the film cultivates.

Acting wise John C Reilly stole the show. It's always nice to see him in films like this to remind everyone what kind of range he has as an actor. Joaquin Phoenix also delivers as the alcoholic and and fast tempered brother. Jake Gyllenhaal was solid as expected, but didn't really stand out in any way in the film. Still I don't have a single complaint about the acting in the film. Everyone did their jobs perfectly.

The film certainly was a very slow burn. It was heavy on dense dialogue and required quite a bit of attention. These are not negatives in my book as they were intentional, but this will not make people happy who are looking for a more traditional western. I will say that the film could have been cut down twenty or so minutes to speed up the flow of the plot. This slight pacing issue did make the film drag at times. The plot structure may be a bit of a turn off for some as well. The bleak and nihilistic flow of the film that puts the initial conflict as secondary may come across as anti-climatic for some.

In a lot of ways this is one of my favorite westerns I've seen in years. I love the actors, but it's the directors masterstrokes that really makes this movie stand out. It was all around one of the best made movies I have seen all year. It certainly had its flaws and it is not going to make anyone happy if they are expecting a traditional Western, but for those who care more about the journey and atmosphere this movie is for you. Unfortunately this movie is bombing in the box office, but it certainly deserves some praise for its accomplishments. A 8.25 out of 10.
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American Grit & French Wit Combine
Raven-196923 September 2018
American grit and French wit, sensibility and cinematic prowess combine in this unique and alluring form of the traditional western. It is about time. The results are spectacular.

Bounty hunters Eli and Charlie are brutal, efficient and effective. Charlie, often drunk, is impulsive and cynical, while Eli is more thoughtful and emotional. During the Gold Rush of 1851 they are trailing their mark from Oregon to San Francisco. Along the way they encounter thugs, spiders, mercury and frontier medicine at its best (or worst), and grapple with their fears and fantasies. Eli has strong feelings that violence invites more violence and attempts to get his brother to quit while they are ahead. Charlie, however, prefers action and meeting fears and uncertainties head on.

There was a genuine and spontaneous expression of love for the film from the audience at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. From the flashes of black powder in night to the music, cinematography, twists in the plot and quotes from Thoreau, there are so many aspects of the film from which to derive pleasure. The all-star cast includes Joaquin Phoenix (Charlie), John Reilly (Eli), Jake Gyllenhaal and Riz Ahmed. Reilly and Phoenix work extremely well together and the film is worth watching just to see their chemistry. The filmmakers provide realistic and refreshing portrayals of 1850s western hygiene (or lack thereof), clothing fashions, fighting, sex and roleplay, the environment and even bird songs. Modern language is employed, rather than awkward and confusing attempts to employ historical words and phrases that audiences no longer understand the meaning of.

From the director of amazing films including Dheepan, Rust and Bone and Cannes Grand Prix winner Un prophete. Audiard said he intended to show what regular life in the West was like in 1851 and he succeeded. The Sisters Brothers was shot in Spain and France, with sets in Romania, but there was no way I could tell if Audiard did not say so. Something I do not often realize, but the editing is crisp and remarkable. The scenes seem so natural in their order. The film is based on Canadian author Patrick deWitt's award winning novel.
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Entertaining & exciting
bandre8927 September 2018
Just came from the cinema! Totally enjoyed this. Storywise it delivers what's expected by a good ol' western: a slow yet steady storytelling with gunmen, brothels, chasing, gold and whisky. Actors were great, the bond between the brothers felt very convincing! Creative filming, nice soundtrack and a very autentic feel to it overall. If you're in the right mood, relaxed and feeling it: kick back and enjoy this great picture!
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It's getting good deserves GREAT reviews!
Stay_away_from_the_Metropol25 September 2018
Was not totally sure what to expect going into this, considering all the good-but-not-great reviews along with a trailer which fell rather flat, but it far surpassed my expectations. It is a flawless film, and definitely one of the best movies I have seen come out in 2018. It is a film with pristine balance and dynamic, and it's directed with great discipline. This is a fantastic first impression of director Jacques Audiard for me - starting with a masterpiece is a strong way to start! All 4 of the lead actors kill it and have incredible chemistry together. John C. Reilly puts in quite possibly his finest dramatic performance. Joaquin Phoenix fulfills yet another classic character for the books. Jack Gyllenhaal is astonishing in a completely new way, and his bromance with Riz Ahmed feels so right. The film starts out relatively slow as you would expect any movie taking place in the 1800's to do, but once the ball started rolling...I chuckled endlessly, I wondered, I worried, I cried, I was touched. There's not much more endearing than watching John C. Reilly learn what a toothbrush is and use one for the first time! A+ movie! Go see this movie!
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Jacques Audiard joins Hollywood with a singular western
lucaslmblackbird29 September 2018
Jacques Audiard, one of the best french directors (Dheepan, Rust & Bone, A Prophet...), is making a western, which is the most American genre of movies. True there are amazing rides, beautiful landscapes (not american for the most) and rough violence. However, the core of the movie remains the characters, their relationships. It's where you realize that Audiard & Bidegain wrote a deep and moving story about two brothers. You can buy a ticket only because of the cast, which dazzles in this picture, from the plain Jake Gyllenhaal to the fantastic John C Reilly.
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Great cast, interesting premise, failure to launch
andrewpcsmith14 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
What happens when you get all this amazing talent in one movie? The answer is a meandering journey desperately searching for a theme or purpose. But it comes up short. Is it brotherhood? Friendship? Betrayal? Greed? We never get a satisfying answer, things are constantly setup and never pay off, like some strange postmodern filmmaking style where nothing matters in the end.

It's fairly well shot, but it is not a beautiful film. There are exceptions to this, a gold panning scene being one of them. I would've forgiven a lot if every shot would've looked like a painting. But the pace of this film will lull you to sleep, about halfway through we get to our first interesting conflict and character development between the brothers. I don't think we would've missed Jake Gyllenhaal's character had he been entirely cut from the film.

It's a slow burn of a film, but instead of a roaring inferno, this one fizzles out. Skip this and go watch a Clint Eastwood or John Wayne film.
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Hard to finish
TheGusK20 December 2018
Pretty dull stuff, if I was watching this at home I would have shut it off. The trailer made it look good, although they did expose a major plot point in rather thin plot to start with. It's hard to say how good the acting was due to poor dialog and there was no way that I was buying super gun skills.
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Went no where
battlebuckships22 December 2018
I was kind of disappointed in this film. The acting was excellent, locations were on the money. The story for me went nowhere. I did however enjoy the acting. Overall not a film I would recommend.
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its ok but.....
meanolddrunk21 December 2018
3 of my favorite actors, who played their roles very well but the whole movie was lacking something. i cant put my finger on it... like a taco tuesday with no fixuns, just meat and a tortilla. that kind of empty is how i felt. the entire story line was very boring. the characters were not very like able. actually the whole movie stank like an old chicken dinner forgotten about in the fridge. i cant recall a single moment of this movie that was worthwhile of viewing again. such a waste of talent
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All my favorite actors in one fantastic film!
wowiecazowie3 October 2018
This is a different kind of western in the best possible way. Phoenix and Rileys scenes together are captivating, hilarious, shocking, etc.! And the bond between Gyllenhaal and Ahmed was beautiful and charming. Throughout the showing, people would audibly gasp and laugh and scream (including myself) which was so refreshing! I cannot wait to show this to my whole family! And Jake, if you're reading this, please contact me ASAP!!!
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Misled by the Trailer
peeedeee-9428117 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Let's just get this out of the way: What you see in the trailer is NOT how the movie plays out. The trailer is fun, it's witty, they even use a contemporary song to make the movie feel hip. But then you sit down and watch the film, and you're like 'whaat?' The tone and pacing was all over the place. This wasn't a buddy movie, nor was it a western in the true sense. This was a euro drama set in the 1800s. There were so many extraneous scenes and moments that I swear the director should have just found another editor. None of the alleged comedic moments played out in a humorous way, the comic timing was off or non-existent. The movie meanders all over the place with the plot, and just when you think it made it's point, it just keeps going on and on. And it just doesn't make any sense. I mean, what happened to all that gold that supposedly they found? They just up and left everything just so they could head back home and lie on their beds? Yes, I know there was a pointless part in between all of that (no explanation as to what happened, or even why there weren't any of the Commodore's men standing around when the Sisters Brothers showed up). And what was with Jake Gyllenhaal's accent? Was he a southerner or not? He couldn't keep that straight. It reminded me of Keanu in Bram Stoker's Dracula and his disappearing english accent. If you never see this film, you'll not be missing anything. This doesn't add anything to the western genre. Steer clear of this stinker.
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What did I just watch?
stuprum17 October 2018
I was excited about this movie. Love the cast. Love westerns. But that could not save this terrible movie. It seemed like a movie put together with a bunch of scenes that didnt exactly follow any coherent story. What story there is, is ridiculous. Jake Gyllenhaal...what are you doing in this movie? Worst performance I have ever seen by him. A bunch of silliness in this movie as well, keeping you from ever taking it seriously. Do yourself a favor. Dont go see it.
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A plodding and overlong tale of violence and redemption that doesn't seem to know quite what it's trying to say
Bertaut16 April 2019
The Sisters Brothers is a film set in the American Old West, based on a book by a Canadian, made by a mostly French crew, shot primarily in Spain and Romania, featuring a Brit as an American, an American as a Brit, and a British trans comedian as a ruthless American businesswoman. I don't bring this up out of mere frivolousness; rather, a certain element of schizophrenia is built into the film's very DNA. On the surface it's a Revisionist Western with a gritty Spaghetti aesthetic focusing very much on a group of anti-heroes, but it's also a story of two brothers getting on one another's nerves, a tale of avarice and the destructive potential of progressive thinking, a chase movie, a dark comedy, a tragic fable, an examination of the days when the Old West was giving way to an ever-encroaching modernity, a look at how the sins of the father are oft repeated by the children, a study of competing types of masculinity, and even a political thesis, postulating that there was a time in American history when certain people genuinely believed they could build a harmonious society based on direct democracy.

The English language debut of director Jacques Audiard, who adapted the script with his regular writing partner Thomas Bidegain from Patrick DeWitt's 2011 novel of the same name, the film is very much of a piece with his more celebrated humanist work such as De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté (2005), Un prophète (2009), and Dheepan (2015). Unfortunately, it did next-to-nothing for me. I wouldn't say it's a bad movie, as it clearly has a lot going for it; not the least of which is an unapologetic foregrounding of character over plot. However, its episodic rhythm, bifurcated narrative structure, and poorly-defined morality left me unengaged, frustrated, and rather bored.

Set in 1851 at the height of the California Gold Rush, the film tells the story of Charlie Sisters (Joaquin Phoenix) and his older brother Eli (John C. Reilly), hired guns working for "The Commodore" (a criminally underused Rutger Hauer). Far more sensitive and thoughtful than his younger brother, Eli is growing weary of the lifestyle, wanting to retire, settle down, and open a grocery store. The more unpredictable and volatile Charlie, however, wants to keep on killing indefinitely. Their next quarry is Hermann Kermit Warm (Riz Ahmed), a mild-manner chemist who has created an elixir that when poured into a river, will illuminate any gold deposits on the river bed. Unsure of Warm's exact location, The Commodore has already sent highly-intelligent tracker John Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal), a man too gentile for killing, to pick up his trail and detain him until the brothers catch up. However, upon learning that Warm doesn't want to use the gold for himself, but to help establish "an ideal living space, ruled by the laws of true democracy and sharing", Morris begins the doubt the mission. Meanwhile, the brothers are rapidly approaching.

Very much adopting the visual style of a Spaghetti Western, everything on screen looks dirty and/or dusty, whether it's the worn and lived-in costumes, the spartan buildings, or the perpetually unshaven characters and their rotting teeth (an historically accurate detail absent in most modern westerns). Of particular note are the shootouts, of which there are three significant examples. The first takes place at night, and is shot from a distance and without much in the way of coverage; the second is shot primarily from the point of view of two characters doing their best to hide; and the third isn't seen at all - we remain inside as the shooting can be heard on the street.

This should convey just how revisionist The Sisters Brothers is; the genre's tropes are all there, but they are presented from unexpected angles; men ride horses, but when a horse is mortally wounded, the man to whom he belongs cries and apologises; whisky is drunk aplenty, but one character would rather sit alone thinking about home; the anticipated climatic shootout plays out in a manner you'll never see coming.

The film opens with an extraordinarily beautiful and striking scene. It's night on the prairie, and having vanquished their opponents, the brothers are about to leave, when they see a horse, its back covered in flames, galloping away, trying to outrun the fire from which it doesn't understand it can never escape. Realising the barn is on fire, Eli dashes in to try to save the trapped horses, whilst Charlie urges him to remain outside. Is the metaphor of the burning horse a little on the nose? Absolutely; try as they might, the brothers can never escape that which brings them pain, no matter how far or fast they run. But just because it's not exactly subtle doesn't mean it's ineffective, and as opening visual metaphors go, it's as striking an example as you're likely to find. The scene also immediately establishes the differences between Eli and Charlie.

In relation to the milieu, yes, this is the Old West of John Ford, Anthony Mann, and Sergio Leone, but Audiard defamiliarises it as much as possible. A recurring theme, for example, is that this is a world on the brink of modernity. This is depicted via a running gag about Eli's fascination with a curious modern invention (the toothbrush), and his childlike glee at staying in a hotel with indoor plumbing. Elsewhere, Morris remarks on how quickly the country is changing, writing, "I have travelled through places that didn't exist three months ago. First tents, then houses, then shops, with women fiercely discussing the price of flour." Additionally, Warm's progressive egalitarian vision for the future allows the film to examine the belief (however short-lived) that out of the lawlessness, land thievery, and Native American genocide, a certain section of the populace hoped a more mutually beneficial society might arise.

However, Audiard is not naïve enough to suggest that the Old West was especially peaceful or safe. But even here, he subverts the genre, using a recurring motif of either Charlie or Eli shooting an already downed opponent pleading for his life, which is certainly not what we've come to expect from the protagonists so familiar in Hollywood westerns.

In terms of acting, Phoenix, Gyllenhaal, and Ahmed all have moments to shine (a monologue in which Morris describes his hatred for his father is especially worth looking out for), but this is Reilly's film. His nuanced performance allows us to see just how badly Eli's conscience is affecting him, and how much he is drifting away from the increasingly amoral Charlie. His unexpected affection for his horse is especially poignant, and his tendency to sniff a shawl given to him by his girlfriend is beautifully played.

However, for all this, I really disliked the movie. For one, I found it far too episodic, lurching from one incident to next with little in the way of connective tissue between them. I also didn't particularly like the shifts in focus from the brothers on the one hand to Morris and Warm on the other, making it impossible for either to fully settle. A knock-on from this is that it's difficult to figure out where one's empathy is supposed to lie. This difficulty becomes especially problematic in relation to the morally questionable dénouement, in which there is an incident which seems designed for the audience to roundly condemn one of the main characters, only for the film to then give us a 15-minute epilogue seemingly designed to redeem him.

This throws into relief what for me was the most egregious problem - none of what we see seems to mean anything, there are virtually no consequences for anything the brothers do (although plenty of consequences for others). This left me scratching my head as to what the film is trying to say. Is it suggesting that even the most morally repugnant of men deserve a shot at redemption? If that is the case, however, its rhetorical position is not especially cogent, as the character mentioned above in no way deserves redemption, allowing his greed and stubbornness to cause untold suffering to others whilst he gets off relatively scot-free. The film is also far too long, and could easily have lost a half hour or more.

As a kind of an aside, it's also worth mentioning an aesthetic decision that has me baffled. On occasion, the film is shot within a circular frame (think of how films often simulate POV through a telescope), often combined with racked focus and unsteady photography. I'm assuming the idea is to try to replicate the style of a Kinetograph, but given that that device wouldn't be invented for another four decades, I'm not entirely sure what the point is. An especially strange example is a scene in which Charlie speaks direct-to-camera, the only example of such in the whole film. Is this a break in the fourth wall, and if so, why? If it isn't a break, from whose POV is the scene shot?

The four performances at the heart of The Sisters Brothers earn it a great deal of leeway. But even taking that into account, I just couldn't get into it. Far too plodding and thematically unfocused, it's certainly original in how it approaches generic tropes, and that's to be commended, but the imprecise and poorly constructed episodic narrative saps away the good will built up by the aesthetic design and the acting. Is it a western? A comedy? A tragedy? An esoteric political piece? A realist depiction of greed trumping idealism? In the end, it doesn't seem to know itself, trying to be many things, and ending up being none of them.
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A new take on an old genre with phenomenal performances
EderR2818 October 2018
A beautiful looking film, cinematography was on point. It took a little while to get things going but the last half made up for it. An original idea for a Western, and I love a good Western so I throughly enjoyed it. All the performances were great and it was genuinely touching, but there was just something missing that failed to elevate this movie from very good to great.
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Phoenix and Gyllenhaal on the same screen!.... for this?
fuzzahproductions24 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I was looking foward to the crossover movie of Joaquin Phoenix and Jake Gyllenhaal where they prove to not just be the same person this whole time, and i would be lying if I said it didn't deliver in that regard. But this movie... was just okay. The performances all around were stellar, with Gyllenhaal and Joaquin completely getting lost in their roles. John C. Riley was good... half of the time, the other half was just Steve Brule in a cowboy hat. Throughout the movie i just kept thinking to myself, "so when are we gonna start wrapping up?" That's not a good sign. Don't get me wrong - where this movie goes and each scene in of itself is pretty good, the film just lacks real momentum. The film doesn't really go anywhere, which would be fine if there was a central theme for the spiraling story. But The ending was kinda poop, so that doesn't help. I enjoyed watching it and the directions it took, but it never felt complete to me. Everything about this movie (except the exceptional performances) were just fine. Go see if you want an enjoyable and unpredictable western with good performances, but if you're hoping for this movie to prove itself as a treasure of cinema, you'll be sadly mistaken. 6/10
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scrabo39-143-1685024 December 2018
I mean, what was the point? Absolutely no empathy for any of the characters at all. Far from being a 'beautiful film', I found it downright ugly.
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Thoughtful Western
sharkfinsoup18 October 2018
Wow! I went to see this knowing that horses would be ridden shots would be fired, and blood would be spilled, but not much else. I put my trust in Jacques Audiard, my favorite French director, directing his first English-language film. This is rich with moral complexity, like some of his earlier films, like "A Prophet" and "Read My Lips."

This is a western that has a lot of action, as do most. But it's as much character-driven as it is plot driven. I especially liked John C. Reilly as Eli, the older, and much more mature of the two Sisters brothers. The rest of the cast is outstanding...especially Joachim Phoenix as the other brother, Charlie, and Jake Gllendaal, as a frenemy.

It's also interesting to see things that were new, or new-ish inventions, that were mostly unknown to people of 1852, when the film is set. Things like toothbrushes and flush toilets.

A satisfying film, with food for thought at the end.
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Like watching cement dry.
grwckd118 February 2019
Good actors, slow paced boring drivel. Waste of talent. Never laughed once. Couldn't finish watching. Don't waste your time or money.
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Watchable ..But there is no in-depth in the story
ratina-599143 January 2019
It's just go on like story..can be watchable for once..But it's lacking what movie lovers expecting from western movies.
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I wonder if Patrick deWitt was as shocked as I was.
susandewalt1 November 2018
If you read the book and appreciated the depth and complexity of the characters, the clever dialogue between Eli and Charlie (or even Eli's musings), then you should steer clear of this distortion. To say that this movie is based on deWitt's novel is to overstate the facts. Too many changes from the original make for shallow cardboard cut-out characters racing through a sparse and simplistic story line. All that made the book engaging and rich is missing in the film, and will only make you angry to have wasted money on it. I understand the need to edit and crop to fit the screen, but this was such a disappointment. Had I seen the movie first, I'm afraid I would have missed the novel, because there's no way I would have read it after seeing this.
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Big disappointment
bsemora27 October 2018
The Duke never talked like these guys. The sardonic humor didn't make up for the violence.
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