Claim, The (UK/France/Canada; 120min.)


directed by: Michael Winterbottom
starring:Peter Mullan; Sarah Polley; Wes Bentley; Nastassja Kinski; Milla Jovovich
The Claim
 
Kevin says: "Michael Winterbottom's THE CLAIM was moderately successful, I felt. First of all, Wes Bentley was WRETCHED; I HATED him in this. I know it's some sort of blasphemy but I just can't really get into Sarah Polley; I like her, but she alway seems so stilted to me, and she did here as well. Peter Mullan, on the other hand was fabulous. Visually, it was unbelieveably beautiful, but it was definitely missing something." 3 cats
 
Laura says: "I really loved the production design/art direction on this one (I could feel the closeness of those interior rough hewn boards) and cinematography (a shot of two women crossing an elevated boardwalk with lanterns set against the snow - looked like they were floating across the landscape). I also really admired the score. Natassja Kinski gives a subtle performance (and has a gripping death scene). Oddly, I found Peter Mullan's perf to be extremely similar to the one he gives in the upcoming SESSION 9. Why did Milla's madam have fine gowns but no rouge pot? The whole thing didn't really connect emotionally, though." 3 cats
 
Michael says: "I know very few people caught this film, a pioneer/Western adaptation of Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge, but I had been greatly interested in it (due to the participation of Sarah Polley.) Unfortunately, I wasn't able to catch it until now in its DVD/video release, and I'm glad I did. I liked it quite a bit!

Filled with glorious Yukon vistas, tangled family relationships, and pioneer-style adventure, THE CLAIM looks at a man named Mr. Dillon, who sacrificed much to achieve the success, not the least of which was his family. Now (meaning 1867) he owns the town Kingdom Come, hoping for the Pacific Railroad Company to run the rail through his town. Peter Mullan (MISS JULIE) is great as the ruler and founder of the town.

Along comes Dalglish, engineer for the Pacific Railroad Company to determine where the rail will run. Also arriving on the same cart is Mrs. Burn and her daughter Hope. They come to see their "relation" Mr. Dillon. The fifth important member of this cast of characters is Lucia, Dillon's mistress, and head "entertainer" and manager of the town's saloon.

The story is suitably underplayed, despite the dramatic content, which really worked well. Event happen in a natural, realistic manner unlike traditional movie conventions in a story of this sort. Acting is good overall, with a few wobbles. Natassja Kinski is surprisingly effective as the consumptive Mrs. Elena Burn, who has a mysterious connection with the all-powerful Mr. Dillon. Sarah Polley is, of course, superb as Hope Burn, Elena's daughter, who quietly falls in love with the Railroad engineer while tending to her dying mother. Then we come to Wes Bentley, who tackles Dalglish. His acting was good, but there was something about him that didn't work for me. His was a very complex character, and I didn't get that from Bentley's performance... or perhaps the character wasn't written well enough. Either way, a stronger Dalglish would have been nice. And unfortunately, Milla Jovovich wasn't up to the part of Lucia. She tried admirably, but couldn't handle the more dramatic moments.

Lots of stuff going on in the film, as see a self-made god of a man come tumbling down to ruin due to his own pride, greed and the external forces he cannot control. I recommend this good, but not perfect film." 3.5 cats
 
Tim says: "Another visually beautiful movie. Good performances by Peter Mullan, Nastassja Kinski and Sarah Polley. Wes Bentley just seemed out of his element in this movie. He was perfect for American Beauty, but I thought he just seemed uncomfortable in this role." 3 cats