Starring: Nicolas Cage, Fred Hechinger, Jeremy Bobb, Xander Berkeley, Rachel Keller, and Paul Raci
Director: Gabe Polsky
Butcher’s Crossing doesn’t always work, but it offers enough to satisfy fans of the western genre. The biggest problem is that the story beats come too quickly. The audience isn’t given enough time to settle in with the characters before they evolve into their next form, which undermines the intended effect of their arcs. Plus, the lengthy text coda at the end is important information, but it feels very forced and not particularly in line with the themes of the movie. That said, Nic Cage does great work as a buffalo hunter on the verge of madness, and the cinematography is breathtakingly beautiful.
I love John Edward Williams’ novel Butcher’s Crossing, so I was keen to see how the story would be adapted to the screen. Although the book is told through the eyes of the young William Andrews (played by Fred Hechinger), the film instead focuses more on Nic Cage’s character, Miller, while neglecting to explore his motivations outside of psychotic tendencies. The audience isn't given a chance to know the characters, and the film instead uses a lot of delirious montage sequences to convey their emotional states. Overall, this is an unfortunately shallow adaptation of a truly great piece of American Literature.
This film was reviewed by Quentin as part of Bitesize Breakdown's coverage of the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival.