8:00 PM, 23rd May, 2000
Woody Harrelson plays Big Boy Matson in this contemporary western set in New Mexico just after the end of World War II (I say contemporary because simply calling this film a western may deceive it's true nature, which has been suggested by some critics to contain elements of genres as diverse as crime thriller and film noir). Big Boy has forged an unlikely alliance with Pete Calder (Billy Crudup), a quiet, introverted character contrasting sharply with the more rowdy personality of his good friend. All is not well for these two however. Not only is the title of cowboy becoming more the stuff of legends than an actual job description, but they have both fallen for the same girl, Mona (Patricia Arquette). Now if this film was more of a traditional western, it probably would have stopped there. Hell, it may not have even gone that far. Hi-Lo Country however enriches this situation by adding a few extra variables. Pete tries to forget Mona, who really feels more for Big Boy, by becoming involved in a relationship with Josepha (Penelope Cruz), which does little to aid his situation. In addition, did I mention also that Mona is actually married to someone who works for a new-school land owner, directly opposed to the old fashioned ways of Big Boy, who, as a protest, makes less and less effort to conceal his relationship with Mona?
It hence should be evident, from not only the involving narrative but also the impressive cast, that this film offers a more rewarding experience than the typical old-school Western. I, for one, am certainly hoping so. You see, it is rumoured that the lowest ever attendance to an ANU Film Group screening was a stellar six people for a crusty old generic western, called something something wagon something or other, I forget now. Anyway, lets just hope Woody Harrelson fans are abundant enough amongst ANUFG members to get this film a nice crowd, because I seriously doubt if hard-core Western fans are.