MOVIE REVIEWS

Comes a Horseman

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MGM

Wikipedia

October 25, 1978

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By John Chard January 28, 2017

Horsewoman. Surely?

Comes a Horseman is directed by Alan J. Pakula and written by Dennis Lynton Clark. It stars Jane Fonda, James Caan, Jason Robards and Richard Farnsworth. Music is by Michael Small and cinematography by Gordon Willis.

It seems the ideas and willing behind Comes a Horseman are made of sturdy stuff, you sense that the makers wanted to make a reflective post-modern Western set in post World War II times. Tonally they get it mostly right, it is very sombre, both in characterisations and the changing of the times thematic beat. Plot is hardly thrilling as Robards' land baron plots to oust Fonda and Caan out of their respective homesteads in readiness for the oil company to come destroy the magnificent landscape.

Ella Connors (Fonda) is a feisty but vulnerable woman, Frank Athearn (Caan) is fresh out of service in the war and carries the emotional scars of said battles. They form an unsteady alliance to ward off Jacob Ewing (Robards), but as past turmoil's come to the surface it's touch and go as to who, if anyone, will win out.

With the Colorado landscape beautifully captured by Willis, and the performances (including an Academy Award Nomination for Farnsworth as Ella's sage old ranch hand) solid as a rock, the pic retains interest if you can tolerate the laborious pace favoured by Pakula. There a couple of action sequences within, but they feel like afterthoughts, so we are left to buy into the rueful characterisations and their respective attempts at post war living out there on the ranges. 6.5/10

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