Meek's Cutoff ★★★★

Given her fascination with the progress of American society, it's no surprise that Reichardt should come to experiment with the Western genre, its focus on frontiers offering a timeless perspective on the fabric of national identity. Like most of her films, Reichardt's characters here seem to infinitely trudge through vast swamps of hopelessness, their clear objectives always seeming yet further away. The cast all do an excellent job of lending emotional weight to their characters, Williams and Dano particular highlights whose differing responses to the building desperation they encounter paint a painful picture of aimlessness in an uncompromising world of nihilism and death. It's very slow, but not deleteriously so, the pace reinforcing the sense of foreboding on which the film thrives. I don't know that it's Reichardt's best work, as some have said, though it does further attest her considerable potential. I can't think of a modern director who has a better handle on the America of today; this is a more allegorical approach to her world view, a wonderful trip back to the past in search of the future.