Night at the Orpheum- Hostiles

 

Emotion, Struggle and Violence make Hostiles a true western

 

Christian Bale stars as Army Captain Joseph Blocke,r  a ruthless soldier charged with escorting Chief Yellow Hawk, Wes Studi, to his native land in Hostiles. Bale portrays a complex and scarred character that is set in his racist belief that Native Americans are savage. Set in 1892, Joseph Blocker and his fellow soldiers are harboring a grudge towards Chief Yellow Hawk and towards all Native Americans, but Hostiles is not a story about true hatred. Instead, it depicts a raw, emotional journey towards forgiveness and understanding. 

One character that embodies forgiveness is Rosalie Quaid, Rosamund Pike, whose family is slaughtered by a band of Apache worries set on stealing the family’s horses. Pike’s tragic character offsets Bale’s rigid and cold one, playing off each other’s differences in a beautiful manner. Pike and Bale have a chemistry with each other that makes the audience fall into their story. 

Hostiles plot is something of an epic, following characters as they enter the plot, serve their purpose and exit once they either complete their purpose or die. It sets it apart from other Westerns that follow a begin, middle and end formula. Hostiles drags its audience through tragedy after tragedy but it’s not pointless violence. The violence in Hostiles serves a  purpose to the plot and to the development of the characters. It helps Blocker and his men, and also Rosalie, to grow into characters that help and become friends with a race of people they previously feared and hated. 

The plot is the strong point of the film along with characters that draw you in, but the format of the plot, though it is effective, causes the movie to drag along. It’s slow pace adds to it but also takes away from it at the same time. The slow burning of the characters development makes it feel real, but the pandering, slow pace causes some of the effectiveness of the plot to diminish due to the back and forth that comes as a result. Audiences will see a character make an improvement and then take a few steps back. 

Though the characters were compelling to watch, the perspective was skewed towards benefitting the image of white settlers. Studi had a magnificent and regal character, Chief Yellow Hawk, but his character rarely had speaking moments throughout the film. Chief Yellow Hawk was vital to the story in that he humanized Blocker and his men, making them seem, as the story progressed, as compassionate and understanding. Hostiles barely touches upon the true violence and horror of its time period, skirting around the hard truths and making the villains appear to be heroes.  

Hostiles has a compelling story that should be watched with a close eye. Receiving 3 Os out of 5, Hostiles is the western blockbuster to see this spring. 

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