Hostiles

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Hostiles is a film, at its core, about change. People change, for better or worse. The world changes, and nothing is ever the same.

This film is also beautiful in many ways. The cinematography is gorgeous and stunning, bringing a sense of wonder and awe to the American landscape. The shots of rolling plains and endless forests evoked a sense of wanderlust in me that is rarely awoken by a film.

Hostiles is beautiful in the depictions of its characters. Joseph Blocker (Christian Bale) is a man that is deeply torn, both by the things that he’s done and the things that he’s asked to do. It is an enthralling journey to witness his change, his acceptance and realization of the truths set before him.

This film also sets the violence and brutality of the American West in a unique light, forcing viewers to ask questions about what they’ve been told and their belief in said information. The Native Americans fought savagely to defend their homes and their land and their families from callous invaders. That is a fact, and yet often we are told differently by media and schools.

I did have some minor issues with Hostiles, however. I very strongly dislike Rosamund Pike as an actress, with her ‘constantly surprised’ expression and limited emotional range. The scene with her crying and screaming was especially cringeworthy. I wish they had cast someone else for the role or Rosalee.

Hostiles often shies away from showing the violence that it condemns. Whether this is a conscious choice to make a statement or not, I’m not sure. I felt that certain scenes detracted from the story and the message itself, such as when the men go into the trapper camp to rescue the women. None of the actual brutality makes it onto the screen, and we’re half-heartedly informed that one of the men is dead.

The ending of Hostiles is so dramatic, so emotional, and so crushing. I felt completely devastated by the outcome. And yet, those emotions are immediately undercut by the next scene and the needless ‘happy’ ending.

I really enjoyed this film and the questions and themes that it posed and explored. The world needs more quality Westerns and Hostiles fills that void, if only for a couple hours.

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