Review by Bluray Junkies
In A Valley of Violence is jam full of outstanding actors with Ethan Hawke, John Travolta, Toby Huss, Karen Gillan, Taissa Framga, James Ransone but the real treat of the film comes with Ti West’s direction. Ti West is mostly known for his quirky independent horror films, from his VHS trilogy, House of the Devil, The Innkeepers fame. At first look he doesn’t fit the bill as a western director. But don’t let his previous work fool you, he has done a great job with this updated rugged indie entry of the western genre.
The film is about Paul played by Ethan Hawke and his canine companion named Abbie who drift from town to town making their way to Mexico. Paul is a runaway soldier hero whose been grief stricken by his acts of violence in the war. Paul is running out of supplies and stops at a small town, he soon has a confrontation by the town’s drunk in a bar but before it escalates his fiancée stops the fight. Later the sheriff played by John Travolta hears about the confrontation and learns Paul is a runaway soldier from the US Army. Soon the sheriff and his cohorts confront Paul labeling him a coward and traitor, the confrontation escalates and turns violent. Paul survives and heads back into town swearing vengeance and this is when the film takes a turn and where Ti West really shines. West has a knack for combing heart/gut wrenching scenes with humor and brutality throughout his films and In the Valley of Vengeance is no exception. Under the brutality there is also humor that completely works.
Ethan Hawke is one of those actors where he can do no wrong. Everything he’s in he gives his all and this is no exception. He uses a grainy heart stricken voice that really sums up the character, he can play a scene without dialog and you know what he’s saying and feeling. John Travolta gives a great performance as the town’s sheriff, at first he was hard to recognize through his southern drawl and costume. He completely dug into this character. All the actors gives fine performances.
The film is rough, unforgiving and brutal but it also dazzles and has some beautiful cinematography of the western landscapes. Ti West decided to shoot on 35mm film which gives it even more beauty.
However that’s not to say this is a perfect film, there are things in it that seemed choppy and just didn’t resonate well, however considering West’s previous films this is possibly his best work yet.
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