Written by: Cormac McCarthy (novel), Ted Tally (screenplay)
Directed by: Billy Bob Thornton
Starring: Matt Damon, Penelope Cruz, Henry Thomas, Robert Patrick
My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!
Two Texas cowboys head to Mexico for work, but run into trouble with the law after one of them falls in love with a rancher's daughter.
It's a western, though a bit of a different breed. Offering solemn charm with sparse Mexican landscapes and country twang accents, it's a tale of finding a place of belonging. While the movie fails to connect like it should have, John Grady Cole is an underrated hero. A man that just wants to do the right thing.
I enjoyed the book, and it's hard to divorce my appreciation for the book from the movie. Would I like this movie as much if I hadn't read the book?
It's a faithful adaptation. All the dialog, from what I recall, seems completely intact, pronunciations included. The glaring change is the ending. The movie cuts out the last few pages of the book, something that could have been included with thirty seconds of screen time. This gives the movie a slightly different interpretation.
The story follows John Grady Cole (Matt Damon) to Mexico after his family ranch is sold and he's left without a home. His friend Lacey Rawlins (Henry Thomas) accompanies him. Their plan is to work on a large Mexican ranch.
Cole lives by a code, though the details are never referenced. He's compassionate and has to do the right thing no matter the uphill battle he faces.
When he and Rawlins encounter a younger boy on the run, Cole helps him. That later gets them in trouble. Rawlins cautioned Cole to leave him be.
After they go to a Mexican jail and are fortunate enough to get out, Rawlins decides to return to America. Cole must attempt a last ditch effort to woo the girl he loves. He says he knows it won't work, but he has to try.
Cole attempts to right the wrongs imposed by the Mexican jail and get his horses back. After crossing back into America, he gets arrested.
The movie concludes with Cole returning Rawlins's horse. He simply states "I thought you'd like your horse back." and the movie ends.
The book goes a bit longer. Rawlins asks Cole what he'll do, suggesting the train company pays well. Cole doesn't know what he'll do, he decides to keep riding as the last of hisremaining family have passed. He's a man without a home or country. He rides into the sunset looking for a place of belonging. That need for a connection is the same feeling that started his adventure. He set out to find something, and in the end, he's still looking.
The way the movie ends, it makes me think someone missed the point. Granted an hour was cut from Thornton's first iteration, but the conclusion seems like a crucial part you'd want to keep intact. Just showing Cole riding into the desert would have helped.