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Jun 5, 2017

Hell Or High Water

West Texas is the romanticized West of twenty first century Hollywood still populated by outlaws, sheriffs and thousands of cows. The edgy element of romance is provided by skeletal still art of derricks dotting the desert-scape, populated by dirt-poor ranchers, slick oilmen and occasionally, in saunters Jeff Bridges in a cowboy hat.

In Hell or High Water, West Texas is played by Eastern New Mexico. Same difference, the same earth under the same sun on either side of an invisible human-drawn administrative line, apparently invisible lines have no effect on geographies.

In addition to the strangely addictive West Texas-Jeff Bridges combo, Hell or High Water has a great cast and a subtly kick-ass script by Hollywood’s true Texan writer – Taylor Sheridan. Directed by David Mackenzie, the movie is about two brothers taking revenge on a financial institution, to put it indirectly staying clear of spoilers.

Chris Pine and Ben Foster work the dynamics of an endearing brothers-in-arms duo, one a happy go lucky ex-con and the other a reserved and protective father. The brothers are balanced on the other side of the law by two Texas rangers – wise-cracking Jeff Bridges and a half Comanche-half Mexican ranger played by Gil Birmingham. There is an interesting tension between these two law men characters  colored with sarcasm and racial jokes yet their banter (mainly one-sided by Bridge's character) has the looking out for each other, brother-from-another-mother quality.

The camera panning the desolate expanse of the desert towns and the story chasing the brothers through the lone star state's western outposts  captures the hopelessness, isolation and rapidly creeping poverty of the region. If you like neo-Westerns (there might or might not be cowboys, by Western I just mean they are shot in the American south west) check out Serpico, True Grit or Nocturnal Animals, the desert is a prominent player in all these remarkable movies.