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If you’re not into westerns, you might want to stop right here. But if you LUV the genre as I do, this might trip your trigger. The film did for me because of its authenticity. There wasn’t much to find wrong about its level of production. It’s a story of human behavior at its best and worst, and how the life choices we make are the best ones we can make at the time.

The story is about Jane Hammond (Natalie Portman), whose husband, Ham (Noah Emmerich), barely makes it home, shot in the back many times by the Bishop Gang, the baddies. After patching up hubby, Jane hides their daughter with a friend and heads out to find help, knowing that Bishop (Ewan McGregor), eerily evil and ruthless, is determined to kill her and her husband. The only man she trusts is Dan Frost (Joel Edgerton), former fiancé prior to the Civil War. The overt theme is survival. The subplots are Dan’s ongoing love/hate thing for Jane, and why Jane married a criminal and gives him relentless, unbending devotion. To paraphrase Jane’s explanation to Dan, not everything in life is all about Dan. Nor is it what appears on the surface. Everybody has a sunshine tale to tell but hers doesn’t/didn’t have much sunshine. For women in the West, there was very little “sunshine” to be had. And that’s one of the two nitpicks I have with the film.

Look at the photos of women of that time period. This film takes place in 1871 New Mexico Territory, hardscrabble indeed. Natalie looks too dang good in the face. She’s lived through every kind of hell and yet looks young. Women in their twenties looked thirty years older. But there were some nice touches, like the blue canning jars and sturdy looking clothes.

My other gripe, and it’s a tiny one, is the condition of the horses after being loped for miles. Their coats would have been wet, perhaps not lathered, but definitely some sign of distance carrying weight. I can’t nag about this much, because it shows that the film had a caring wrangler. The horses were beautifully trained, and like animals used in film, knowledgeable of the terminology from action to cut, unflinching if a clapper is used. When I lived in LA, many of my neighbors were stunt riders. Their horses were in a different class from riding mounts with a calm yet alert demeanor. I digressed.

So I got a little oyfgehaytert when I saw the trailers for this flick. Had to see it before it left the theaters and it didn’t disappoint. It’s made me yearn to haul out the western romance I started to convert to digital length. But I’ve got four WIPs to finish. Mind you, I’m not griping. This film reminded me that I don’t have to start a fire every morning, pump water for the house, livestock and garden, clean clothes with Fels Naptha on a scrub board, wring the neck, pluck and singe the chicken before roasting it in a range that needs the right amount and kind of wood to create the proper temperature. Yeah, I’ve got nothing to whine about. Certainly not this movie. I’ll be buying it when it’s released.

Writing bud, Judi Lynn has a new release, Cooking Up Trouble, now available on Amazon for presale:

Check it out: http://www.amazon.com/Cooking-Up-Trouble-Mill-Pond-ebook/dp/B013NI5G68/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1454985355&sr=1-1&keywords=judi+lynn

M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)

Follow on Twitter @RigdonML

Website http://www.MLRigdon.com