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Hell or High Water

Directed by David MacKenzie

USA, 2016

HOME, 11 September 2016

Hell or High Water

This one is a crime drama set in the contemporary West, with Jeff Bridges a Texas Ranger on the trail of two brothers (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) who rob banks.

It has a powerful narrative pull and it provides as well a stringent critique of those banks that prey on the poor and the down-at-heel. Some activities that rake in the cash are legitimate (loans with extortionate interest rates, say), while others are against the law. If you are poor you are powerless, that’s the bottom line – and in America that is the worst thing to be.

The presence of Jeff Bridges gives what is a good film that added, extra ounce of class. What more is there to say about this fine actor? He is brilliant, once again, his nuanced performance another arrow in the quiver. That response of his when he kills the man who killed his partner is cinematic poetry: a boyish delight followed by sudden anguish. It put me in mind of what Wellington said of war, that the only thing worse than a battle lost is a battle won. War, violence, is the vocation of men yet is a terrible thing always.

Hell or High Water is well crafted and intelligent, effortless – not laboured – in the points it makes about contemporary America. But… Trump or Clinton, how did the choice ever get to be so dire? That question is not answered.