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Meek's Cutoff

average rating is 3 out of 5


Jason Knight


Posted on:

Sep 1, 2022

Film Reviews
Meek's Cutoff
Directed by:
Kelly Reichardt
Written by:
Jonathan Raymond
Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood, Paul Dano, Rod Rondeaux

During the mid-nineteenth century, a group of settlers encounter serious difficulties while journeying through Oregon.


The plot of this Western drama is based on a true event that occurred on the Oregon Trail in 1845, which involved a wagon train and frontier guide Stephen Meek, who led the wagon train on a dangerous journey through the Oregon desert.


The small group of travellers consist of three couples and a young boy and their guide, Stephen Meek (based on the real-life person). They travel with three wagons that are drawn by horses, cattle and donkeys. The film begins with them already on the road and the settlers having started to lose faith in Meek, as they believe that they are lost because they have been on the road for a while and do not seem to be getting anywhere. They do their best to move forward, although it is very hard due to the conditions in the desert and the food and water is running low. Things get more complicated after they encounter and capture an Indian.


Basically, this feature is a journey. A harsh and dramatic journey that takes place in an unforgiving desert that forces the characters to be strong in order to get through it. The screenplay explores how the characters interact with each other and work together and how tensions rise between them as the situation becomes more and more desperate. As the story involves a bunch of people lost in the desert there is a feeling of isolation and there is also despair and danger as their journey progresses. Although they comfort each other and try to stay positive, there does not seem to be any sign that things will improve soon. Once the native enters the scene, things get more dramatic, particularly due to Meek, who is hostile towards him.


All of the cast deliver great performances, especially Greenwood, who is very convincing in his portrayal of a hardened and seasoned guide.


Costume designer Vicki Farrell deserves a lot of praise for the clothing, which looks genuine and gives the impression that it belongs in the time where the story is set.


The movie is superbly directed and Reichardt creates terrific establishing shots of the surrounding landscapes. Director of photography Christopher Blauvelt develops beautiful cinematography and credit also goes to the lighting techniques that are utilised for the scenes that take place at nigh-time.


This is a dramatic film about survival, inner strength, religion and doing the right thing. The pace is rather slow and because of that, this feature is unlikely to appeal to a large audience. This movie isn't really an adventure, but rather, it is a character study. It follows a group of people who are lost in a cruel environment and must do their best to reach safety and maintain their humanity.

Watch Meek's Cutoff Online

About the Film Critic
Jason Knight
Jason Knight
Indie Feature Film
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