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Overall Rating
3.33

Awesome: 3.7%
Worth A Look: 33.33%
Average55.56%
Pretty Bad: 7.41%
Total Crap: 0%

3 reviews, 9 user ratings


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Claim, The
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by EricDSnider

"An indulgent style waters down what could have been a gripping drama."
3 stars

"The Claim" is a gripping, 90-minute emotional drama packed into two hours. Director Michael Winterbottom apparently is not one to rush things, though in many instances here, it would have been better if he had.

The setting is Kingdom Come, a gold rush town in 1867 California. Daniel Dillon (Peter Mullan) owns the town and governs it strictly but fairly. It's a harsh, primitive place, full of whores and outlaws. It appears to be in a permanent state of winter, and not the pleasant kind you see on postcards, either.

Dillon did something dreadful a long time ago, which is shown to us in a flashback without much explanation who it's a flashback of, or even that it IS a flashback. At any rate, his past comes back to haunt him in the form of two women: Elena Burn (Nastassja Kinski), who is dying, and her winsome young daughter Hope (Sarah Polley). He is currently seeing a throaty gal named Lucia (Milla Jovovich), who also seems to have some connection with the Burns.

Coincidental with their arrival is Mr. Dalglish (Wes Bentley), a surveyor for the railroad company whose job is to determine where the line will run. Obviously, putting it through Kingdom Come would be good business for Dillon, who does whatever he can to persuade Dalglish to see that it happens. Dalglish, meanwhile, starts to fall for Hope Burn, who says she's from pioneer stock and can handle the rough wilderness through which Dalglish is constantly required to travel.

Dillon is not forced to reckon with his former misdeeds until well into the film. Indeed, the first hour is often frustratingly vague. Scenes are shot in snow, with characters bundled up, making it difficult to tell who is who. Relationships are not always clearly established. The plot is kept secret from the audience, when that's normally the group of people you'd want MOST informed of what's going on.

When the film finally gets to its point, it's a fine one, full of wrenching drama and some depressing ideas. The question is whether it's worth the effort to get to it. The performances are good throughout, though it's unfortunate Wes Bentley isn't given something meatier to handle as his follow-up to "American Beauty."

The cold isolation of the scenery and the matching detachment from the movie itself make this a hard film to warm up to.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=4775&reviewer=247
originally posted: 07/30/01 14:58:24
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User Comments

3/05/05 tatum Beautiful, and oh so slow 4 stars
9/30/03 R.W. Welch Decent take on Hardy yarn but mostly played too low key with slack pacing. 3 stars
2/22/02 Tomper Moral of the story don't sell your wife and child for gold. But I already knew that. 4 stars
1/21/02 The Bomb 69 had trouble focusing on the story, my attention wandered 3 stars
12/08/01 Gina pretty to look at, but damn confusing until the end-no wait, damn confusing all the way 3 stars
12/01/01 Belinda It took nearly the full length of the movie to get into this ! 2 stars
12/01/01 livedarryl This movie bored me and I found it very uninspiring. 2 stars
11/30/01 Paul Kazmercyk While not a masterpiece, this movie obviously was the product of a well-crafted screenplay. 4 stars
11/29/01 Nancy Rockafellar a visual feast, good historical imagination, right down to gold teeth and lantern light 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  20-Apr-2001 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  29-Nov-2001




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