Last week on my trip to Portland, I went to the Living Room Theater with my friend Rachel to see Hostiles. This was my first time at the Living Room Theater, which is crazy, because I spent a year living just a ten minute walk away. I guess I was just too focused on building up my Regal Crown Points: Diamond member baby, Oh yeah!
Regal points aside, I'd definitely look forward to returning to the Living Room Theater. We arrived early to catch up and had lunch in the theater's cafe. I had a great burger and these amazing fries, that they don't call fries ( they had a strange name that I can't remember.) Rachel had popcorn that was served in a large ceramic bucket. I'm not sure how I feel about having a meal ( snacks are okay) while trying to watch a movie in a theater, but you can bring your food into the cinema. The seats are plush, over-sized, and set up with trays to hold your meals. This may sound really minor, but they also have reusable plastic glasses and a water dispenser, allowing you to bring free glasses of water into the theater. I love this touch and I've never seen it offered in any other theater.
PLOT- Set in the late 1800's, Captain Joseph Blocker (Christian Bale) is nearing retirement and is given a final duty to escort a dying Cheyenne Chief (Wes Studi) and his family back to their ancestral lands in Montana. This is going to be a very dangerous assignment and Blocker has strong prejudices against Native Americans. Problems begin almost immediately, including running into Rosalie (Rosamund Pike), a woman who has just lost her husband and three young children when a Comanche war party raided her farm.
LIKE- I had not seen a trailer and I didn't know much about this film, other than it's a western and stars Christian Bale. I love Christian Bale, so that made Hostiles an automatic "must-see." Although, Bale is not the true star of Hostiles. Pike, with her portrayal of an utterly shattered woman, having lost her entire family, including a baby that died in her arms, is the heart of the film. Rosalie's torture doesn't stop with the murder of her entire family, she experiences plenty more trauma when she joins the ride to Montana. Hostiles is a horrific film and no character emerges unscathed. The death toll and violence is on par with a Tarantino film.
The most intriguing element of Hostiles is the idea that depending on the situation, everyone has the ability to display violence or compassion. At the start of the film, Blocker is very unhappy about his assignment to escort Chief Yellow Hawk; who has been imprisoned by the United States government for many years, along with his family and other Native Americans. Blocker is racist, but more than that, he views the chief as a violent murder, someone that he can't understand is being released from prison. For his part, Chief Yellow Hawk is equally distrusting and angry towards the soldiers who have kept him and his family captive. Tensions are running high from the start. The tension remains high for the entire film.
When they come across Rosalie and learn that a Comanche tribe is responsible, and still in the area, Chief Yellow Hawk reveals that it is not just the white people who are in danger. He pleads with Blocker to untie his wrists, so that he is free to help fight if the Comanche return. Blocker does not come around so easily, but when the Comanche do return and return with full aggression, Blocker witnesses the Chief fight for his life and slowly it becomes an "enemy of my enemy is my friend" situation. The soldiers and the Cheyenne start bond, as they realize that they are not enemies, yet enemies are all around them. They are on the trail ride from hell.
Pretty much every character, except the young children, show that they have a capacity for violence, especially when in survival mode. They also have a capacity for cruelty, whether or not it's necessary for survival. This is an highly uncomfortable exploration about human nature.
Although his role was small, I was excited to see Ryan Bingham. He's one of my favorite singer/songwriters.
DISLIKE- Not really a dislike, more of a feeling that I get from this type of film. Hostiles is a "once is enough" kind of film. It's incredibly bleak and heavy, not something that I need to live through a second time. I put this in the category of a film like The Revenant. It's just enough to experience it once.
RECOMMEND- Yes. Make sure to see Hostiles on the big screen for its beautiful cinematography and a larger than life Christian Bale!