If you like Sam Elliott, stop reading and see the film. He’s 74 years old and still making very interesting films. Sometimes he’s a character actor in a featured part, other times like this, he’s the lead. So see the film.
I love Sam Elliott but this film took some patience. Several times my mind wondered from the film and then I had to back it up because I missed something important to the story.
This is a film that asks you to suspend your beliefs and consider the possibilities. Watching Sam Elliott act is like watching a chef prepare a fine meal, such attention to detail, no waste in his performance, exact proportions and the way he interacts with the story, all the ingredients come together at the right time.
Elliott’s character, Calvin Barr, has this incredible backstory, and his character is played out by a younger actor when the story goes back in time, World War II to be exact.
It seems like everything in his life reminds him of something from his past, difficult things. And some things he can’t easily face.
The film unfolds in a nonlinear style, jumping back and forth between the present and past. The points don’t seem to connect but they relate to him.
He’s pulled inward, as he reflects on his life there are apparently regrets. The woman he didn’t marry. His brother that he’s not close to. Men he killed that he’s not come to grips with.
He is asked by the government to kill Bigfoot. Even as an elderly man, he’s asked to go find and kill it, because Bigfoot is spreading a virus that could destroy civilization.
Elliott wastes no effort, nothing without purpose. You watch his movements, everything connects, eventually.
His killing of Hitler haunts him, because he knew it meant nothing. The Germans covered it up, they had Hitler-doubles; it was the Nazi philosophy, the machine that marched forward, even without the Fuehrer. But he killed him anyway and got a medal for it, which he can’t bear to look at.
Calvin Barr always answered the call when there was a mission. But he doesn’t want to again.
Finally, instead of allowing his life to continue rolling forward, aimlessly, he reaches out to his brother.
His brother understands, and soon, he does too.
The first time I watched the film, I didn’t quite get it. The pieces didn’t fall together, the points didn’t connect. Then I watched the behind the scenes feature and I began to understand.
This is a first time feature director, Robert D. Krzykowski, and he got some help bringing his unique story to the screen. Filmmakers John Sayles and Douglas Trumball are onboard as executive producers.
Barr shoots Bigfoot, he’s wounded him, and now he’s dying, and Barr doesn’t feel good about it. He starts to build a fire to destroy the virus in Bigfoot’s body, but he isn’t dead, and fights Barr, biting off his ear. They fight, Bigfoot is stabbed and this time is dying. Barr says it isn’t what he wanted but is compelled to shoot Bigfoot dead. There is no joy. He seemed to understand Bigfoot’s loneliness and despair when dying.
Barr asks his brother to bury him, so to the town, Barr is dead. But he’s not.
The brother is played by comedian Larry Miller, who gives a subdued performance. The two brothers get to know each other, and Barr begins to have the life he didn’t allow himself to have.
Barr never proposed to the woman he was in love with, something always got in the way, and then he got called up to the war. Still, he couldn’t propose, even though he had the ring ready. She moved away while he was overseas but never gave up on him. When Barr returned from the war, something was different about him. He lost part of himself, and he must have felt he lost the part he wanted to give to her. He threw away her letters, that was the end, but as time passed, he never got rid of the ring. He couldn’t let himself look at it, but he wouldn’t part with it. That was a part of him he held onto.
There’s more to the story, but you get the point. Buy the ticket, take the ride.